Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Conservatives underdogs on campus

Click here to e-mail Peter Bronson
If the NCAA had a tournament of ideas, the same teams would play in the final game every year: PCU vs. GOP.

That's Politically Correct University vs. college Republicans. The refs are the left-wing faculty.

At the University of California Irvine, college Republicans held a bake sale with cookies at different prices for different races, to illustrate the unfairness of affirmative action. The administration shut it down.

At Gonzaga, a Christian, pro-life group was banned for being "discriminatory.''

The same political hoops are played at Ohio State, Miami University, University of Cincinnati and Xavier. Sometimes, underdog conservatives even pull off an upset.

Last week, the UC Student Senate passed a bill to give $2,400 to send 10 buses of students to a pro-abortion rally in Washington.

Student Sen. Nick Furtwengler encouraged college Republicans to protest at a debate showdown last Wednesday. "I'm pro-life,'' said the freshman, "but either way, student government shouldn't take a position.

"Certainly, there's not a majority that agrees with the pro-choice movement. If we do this, we aren't representing them correctly. Nowhere is it allowed in our constitution to facilitate a political agenda.''

UC sophomore Erich Streckfuss introduced the bill. He's also the winner of a Democratic primary for Hamilton County commissioner. But this time, he lost. His bill was vetoed, and his effort to override failed, 14-9. "I don't think it was beyond our realm to get into politics,'' he said. "The issue of abortion affects all students.''

The debate drew the biggest turnout this year for a student government meeting, and the crowd of more than 30 was split down the middle, he said.

Furtwengler said such victories are rare. "It's definitely more difficult for conservative points of view.''

Xavier college Republicans are scoring points with a visit by conservative columnist Walter Williams March 23. But President Colleen Heister criticized bad calls by the administration and student government.

"There's definitely a trend,'' she said. "We've had Ralph Nader and a number of speakers from the left, but no one from the right. There's been no balance from the university, so we feel it's our duty to provide a conservative voice on campus.''

The last straw was the speech last fall by left-wing scold Michael Moore. A local Xavier parent put up $10,000 to bring in Williams after learning that speaking fees and travel expenses for Moore cost $25,000-$30,000.

Heister said $3,000 is still needed for Williams' expenses, and she asked student government for help. But so far, "the university has offered nothing.''

Student Government President Natasha Hamilton said a decision on the request would be made this week. "The reality is the college Republicans are unprofessional,'' she said. "They didn't file the proper protocol and procedures.''

Heister said Moore was chosen by a small committee of student government during the summer, when most students were gone. Hamilton said Moore was a success, because $19,000 was recovered in ticket sales.

Michael Moore, $30,000. College Republicans, $3,000. Maybe.

The NCAA tournament of ideas is like Kentucky versus Lehigh. If conservatives even get into the gym, it's a moral victory.


E-mail pbronson@enquirer.com or call 768-8301.

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