Education Reporter
NUMBER 140 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS SEPTEMBER 1997
 

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Collegians Summit: A Soaring Success

WASHINGTON, DC -- Conservative Members of Congress, newsmakers, professors, and college students addressed the students and interns who converged on the nations capital on June 26 and 27 for the Eagle Forum Collegians Fourth Annual Leadership Summit.

The Summit, hosted by Eagle Forum Collegians (EFC) founder Phyllis Schlafly, provided opportunities for students to interact with other young people who share similar views, as well as with distinguished conservative leaders. Sponsored by a grant from the John M. Olin Foundation, the conference offered students and interns encouragement to stand firm in their beliefs and become active on their college campuses. The Summit was aired by C-Span and repeated at least twice.

On the first day the collegians heard speeches by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (MD), Senator John Ashcroft (MO), Peter Ferrara of Americans for Tax Reform, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Rep. Jim Ryun (KS), Rep. Joe Scarborough (FL), and Rep. Helen Chenoweth (ID). Mrs. Schlafly led group discussions concerning patent rights, the imperial judiciary, and e-mail encryption.

In the first speech of the morning, Rep. Bartlett addressed the issues of mixed-gender training in the military, the patent bill, the trial of Michael New, and the reasons why we dont owe the U.N. any more tax dollars. "You are our future," Rep. Bartlett told the students, whom he praised for "committing your lives to limited government and more individual responsibility and accountability."

Senator Ashcroft explained the need to "return the power to the people and to the elected branches of government so that the judiciary doesnt ultimately distort the will of the people." "The Senate Must Not Confirm Activist Judges," he said. "Whenever there are judges who seek to amend the Constitution in behalf of the people -- for noble purposes or not -- they have exceeded the powers delegated to them in the Constitution, and we should make sure that they understand that that excess of power is not something to be tolerated."

Peter Ferrara of Americans for Tax Reform addressed the question: "Will Todays College Students Ever Get Social Security?" Ferrara said, "People ought to be given the freedom to gain control of their own money and save or invest it in the private sector," and he explained the advantages of independently saving for retirement.

Rep. Rohrabacher urged the attendees to "Protect Our Constitutional Patent Rights." His experiences as a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan helped him to appreciate the value of creative efforts and expression. "I realized that it was the creative process in the beginning that creates the change in a society," Rohrabacher said. "Our Founding Fathers believed that, with freedom and technology, the future of the United States of America would be the future of mankind." Therefore, the Constitution includes protection for the intellectual property rights of inventors. "Weve had more patent protection than anyone else in the world," Rohrabacher said. "Thats why weve got all the inventions here. Thats why our standard of living is higher."

Americans for Tax Reform hosted a luncheon for the Collegians in the Longworth House Office Building, where the students and interns witnessed a history-making announcement that Congress had voted to lower taxes.

The afternoon session of the Summit began with an address by Rep. Ryun concerning "The Need for Leadership in the 90s." He shared how his struggles to become an Olympic runner contrbuted to his development as a leader. "You can have dreams and visions," Rep. Ryun said, "but you need to surround yourself with support people who not only know how to accomplish those things, but who will work in tandem with you."

Rep. Scarborough heightened the collegians awareness of "Conservatism and Christian Persecution" and stressed that "we have got to promote -- not conservative values -- but just the most basic human values of the right to speak, the right to worship your God, the right to political freedom. We cannot aid and abet the enemy when they are persecuting Christians or Muslims or Jews or anyone." He also challenged the students to "energize people" on their college campuses and "dare to make a difference." He said that a person will be identified as a leader if he firmly states his position and remains constant in his beliefs. "We have too many people apologizing for what they believe in -- too many people trying to be liked by everybody," Rep. Scarborough said.

Congresswoman Chenoweth discussed the growing concern about constitutional rights and individual freedoms in her presentation, "Whos Making the Laws of the Land?" She explained the importance of her efforts to reintroduce the Bricker Amendment to ensure that the Constitution is superior to treaties, executive orders, and executive agreements. "If any one of our Constitutional rights is abridged," Rep. Chenoweth said, "once the Bricker-Chenoweth Amendment is passed, then we will have access to remedial solutions and we will be able to address our grievances once again to the court system of the United States of America."

The first day of the Summit concluded with an EFC pizza party, at which the students could informally discuss the issues with Mrs. Schlafly.

Fridays Summit activities were held in the Russell Senate Caucus Room, the historic room where the Watergate and the Iran-Contra hearings took place.

Ken Emanualsen, a student at the University of Texas School of Law, discussed "Using the Internet for Political Activism." He explained the advantages of using the Internet to convey the conservative message to a vast audience. "The Internet gives you the capability at a keystroke to send a message almost instantaneously to 1,000 people," Emanualsen said. "Its a cross link between telephone, TV, and mail, and it takes some of the best attributes of each of them."

Dr. Graham Walker, who recently became an associate professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., spoke on "What I Learned in the Ivy League," drawing on his experiences at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University. Walker discovered that the prestige schools are "as bad as they say." Comparing religious and secular institutions, he said, "I find that there is a greater variety of political opinions in my department at Catholic University than there was at Penn." Walker said that Houghton College, a Christian school, has "a much sounder and more coherent core curriculum of traditional liberal arts than exists any longer at Penn."

The issue of college curriculum was also addressed in the first panel discussion, entitled "What Are They Teaching in College Today?" Stanley K. Ridgley, executive director of Collegian Network of Campus magazine, administered by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, served as moderator of a panel that included Yale University student Lila Arzua, editor of Light & Truth magazine, and Nick Provenzo, a writer for Independence magazine at George Washington University. The panelists warned students about "bizarre courses" and encouraged students to select classes carefully in order to prepare them for the future.

"There is hope," Ridgley said. "The key is to dig down deep and find out that there is a lot of good on the college campuses. Its not all bad. Education is an exciting experience, and it can be even more exciting if you engage, as opposed to being a passive receptor. Engage your professors in dialogue. Educate yourself. Supplement your education. hat can be a rewarding experience, and thats what college should be about." Provenzo encouraged students to challenge educators, because he said that the responsibility to get a quality education rests on each student. "Focus on what you want to get out of your education. There are tremendous opportunities and resources if you are willing to take the initiative," Provenzo said. "Dont be afraid to challenge or investigate or comment on the instruction youre receiving. Be willing to take whatever action is necessary to get that education."

Joe Galli, chairman of the College Republicans, shared his insights about "Todays Conservative Youth Movement." Galli discussed why he thinks young people are becoming less and less conservative and offered a challenge to the Collegians. "Our generation has become less and less conservative since Ronald Reagan," Galli said. "You need to continue a discussion, a dialogue, on campuses about issues -- about important issues that are going on in D.C." Galli explained that students need to "try to find a compelling reason for people to be involved" in politics and urged the Collegians to "get active on campus."

Mark Montini advised students how to increase involvement in conservative organizations on college campuses. In his presentation, "Organizing College Students -- Is It Possible?", Montini suggested solutions for many of the problems that arise in campus organizations. He advised leaders to "focus on getting philosophically committed people involved and generating enthusiasm." He outlined steps a group should use to organize members and to successfully run an organization that will accomplish its goals and attract -- and keep -- new members. "Make it fun," he said. "Thats what brings people back."

During lunch, served in the Senate Caucus Room, the collegians were able to share their concerns with the speakers and ask one-on-one questions.

The afternoon session began with an address by University of Illinois graduate Joel Mowbray, who described the importance of "Bringing Awareness about Social Security to Campus." Mowbray, who will be attending Georgetown Law School in the fall, called Social Security a Ponzi scheme and stressed the benefits of privatization. "The federal government operates the worlds largest pyramid scheme with social security, forcing every worker to fund the retirements of current seniors, and no money is being saved for the future retirements of todays workers," Mowbray said. "Under a private system, every worker would be saving for his or her own retirement."

Rob Corry and Adam Ross each presented information about "Affirmative Racism on College Campuses." Corry, who is counsel for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, won a landmark First Amendment case striking down a speech code at Stanford University when he attended law school there. "It is wrong to prohibit freedom of students speech just because it opposes the schools beliefs," Corry said. Ross, who was president of the EFC chapter at Stanford University, is now a law student at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is the founder and editor-in-chief of the conservative publication, the Texas Review of Law & Politics. He discussed the impact that racial discrimination and preferences have on minorities and majorities, particularly in the academic world. "Were not dealing with affirmative action as affirmative action was originally intended," Ross said. "We are dealing with racial preferences -- treating people not as individuals, but as members of different groups."

The final presentation of the day was a panel discussion entitled "How to Publish a Conservative College Newspaper," which was moderated by Ridgley of the Collegian Network and included advice from Xandy Gillman of The Duke Review at Duke University and from Morgan Knull, founder and editor of The Wabash Commentary at Wabash College. "If the intellectual climate of university campuses was such that there were rational discourse and a marketplace of ideas, thenthere would be no need for a conservative newspaper, and we could work within the system to dialogue with the left," Ridgley said. "Unfortunately, certain ideas are simply not acceptable; you cant publish them."

The panelists offered encouragement to students who want to publish college newspapers that address unpopular views. "On individual campuses, you can really see how the [conservative] papers have interjected accountability into the system," Knull said. "I think the papers have had an incredible impact." Gillman encouraged students to speak out on issues despite their fears. "Be bold and blunt," Gillman said. "Your job is to present your side."

The Summit participants -- conservative leaders of the future -- accepted the challenge to use what they have learned. "The challenge is whats exciting about college," Ridgley said. "It ought to be a challenge, and its one that you should welcome."

-- by Denise M. DeLancey