WASHINGTON, DC -- "I hope you publish a conservative campus newspaper that liberals
hate and everybody reads," said Stanley Ridgley, executive director of the
Collegian Network, in his address to the Eagle Forum Collegians Summit. The
Network publishes Campus, a national student newspaper, and assists college
students nationwide in publishing their own conservative campus newspapers.
"You dont have to start your paper on your campus by yourselves," Ridgley said.
"Resources abound, and the Collegian Network is one of those resources. We
provide financial assistance, expertise, networking opportunities, conferences,
and how-to manuals to help get your paper off the ground if thats what you decide
you want to do."
For students who decide to take the plunge and start a college newspaper, Ridgley
offered much good advice. First, he said, a student must have the desire, the
knowledge, and the resources.
In addition to these three basic prerequisites for success, he said, "You must
have a commitment to truth and a belief in conservative principles." Some of
these principles, he told the students, are individual liberty, personal
responsibility, the rule of the law, limited constitutional government, a
free-market economy, and "a belief in cultural norms that guide us."
Many of these cultural norms are being challenged on todays college campuses, and
Ridgley considers conservative publications a good way to combat such challenges.
"You should have something to say on your campus that you cant say otherwise
because of bias and censorship," he said. "It takes extraordinary young people to
put out newspapers on a college campus, especially newspapers that go against the
For students who are willing to "go against the grain," finding like-minded
individuals is the first step to beginning a successful paper. "It takes more
than good writers to make a newspaper," Ridgley said. "It takes entrepreneurs,
people who can bring together the necessary resources, business sense,
organizational skill, and people skill." At a minimum, he suggests gathering
together two to five core people. The success of a conservative campus newspaper,
Ridgley told the group, ultimately depends on the determination of its founder.
"Make it happen! If the paper does not get off the ground, its no ones fault
but your own," he said. "You must develop a dogged determination to put out each
and every issue. You must make it happen. You cannot rely on anyone else."
One young man who made it happen is Morgan Knull. He was the founder and editor
of The Wabash Commentary while a student at Wabash College. Knull spoke about the
"virulent response" that many conservative campus newspapers encounter from liberal
student groups. He said that members of these groups have burned conservative
newspapers in demonstrations and have even stolen them to prevent other students
from reading them.
Knull told about one outrageous example at Dartmouth College, shortly after the
birth of the now-famous Dartmouth Review. One of the founders, Ben Hart, was
distributing the newspaper when an administrator attacked him and bit him in the
chest, causing a wound that required several stitches. A few days later, members
of the faculty voted to condemn Hart as responsible for inciting the incident.
"That shows the extreme measures the opposition will take to silence our ideas,"
An effective way to keep liberals from silencing the conservative point of view,
Knull said, is through student publications. He outlined several reasons for
starting a conservative newspaper. First, he said, "Conservative publications
establish a permanent, conservative presence on campus. They give backbone to a
Secondly, Knull said that working on campus newspapers helps students prepare for
future occupations. "They allow you to build job skills, establish contacts, and
to become more fully integrated into the conservative movement."
Campus publications give conservative students a necessary voice amidst an often
liberal college administration. "We accept the premise that there are checks and
balances in our Constitution," he said. "But where are the checks, where are the
balances in academia?"
Another student whose campus newspaper serves as a check and balance at her
college is Xandy Gillman, who writes for The Duke Review at Duke University.
Gillman urged the college students to be a bold voice for conservatism on their
own campuses. "If your school is like most," Gillman said, "youre probably
thinking that youre the only one on your side. The truth is that youll never
realize how big your numbers are until you test the waters."
Although "testing the waters" may be intimidating at first, Gillman said, it is
important that all conservative students be willing to let their views be heard.
"Dont be a closet conservative," she said. "I really believe that American
universities wouldnt be so biased if students were willing to share their beliefs
and they werent afraid of the consequences."
Gillman said that while some students are unwilling to present their side of the
story because they fear losing friends, many times new friendships are made in the
course of publishing a conservative newspaper. "There are people out there on
your side," she said. "You just have to find them."
Stanley Ridgley closed the panel by urging the Collegians to follow Knulls and
Gillmans example. "Write about whats happening on the campuses. Be
unconventional, give your readers the unexpected, and do not write about national
and international issues except as they apply to your particular school. Focus on
your campus issues."
By focusing on the most relevant issues, Ridgley said, students can have a
tremendous influence on their colleges and universities. "Make an effort to break
the monopoly on information that university administrations have," Ridgley said.
"This is the way to promote reform in higher education. Persevere, and it can be
one of the most rewarding activities of your college career."
-- by Sarah