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Neo-Conservatism on U.S. Campuses

Posted May. 26, 2003 21:23,   


The conservative student movement is gaining strength on U.S. campuses. One of the reasons for the big success of the Republican Party in last December`s elections, was because campus conservatives were active in supporting the Republican Party, Time Magazine reported in its latest issue (May 25th). Campus conservatives voluntarily and enthusiastically helped the Republican Party by campaigning door to door, talking to voters, passing out literature, and pounding in lawn signs.

Student organizations having the aim to promote their neo-conservative ideology have sprouted on nearly every campus in the U.S. during the last 3 years of Republican Party`s rule and members have at least doubled all across the country. The neo-conservative movement could take a more concrete shape after William F. Buckley, a Yale alumnus, published ¡°God and Man at Yale,¡° in 1951 and later created the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. The institute gave rise to Ralph Reed, and Ann Coulter, two figures who are today leaders in spreading and shaping the Republican Party`s message. Just how close a college conservative can get to the levers of power is suggested by the ascent of one former chairman of the College Republicans, Karl Rove. He is now a close political aide of President George W. Bush.

The reason that the campus conservative movement now has broad appeal among students is that the mentality of students has become more conservative, campus conservatives claim. In fact, according to the U.C.L.A. Higher Education Research Institute, which has been tracking the attitudes of incoming freshmen, when asked their opinion about casual sex, 51 percent of freshmen agreed it was okay in 1987; now 42 percent think it is right. In 1989, 66 percent of freshmen believed abortion should be legalized; today, only 54 percent do. In 1995, 66 percent of kids agreed that wealthy people should pay a larger share of taxes; now it`s down to 50 percent.

The magazine, however, analyzed that the progressive side has made mistakes so the conservative side now has strong organizational power in utilizing current issues for its means. The progressive side perhaps showed too much emphasis on political correctness related to sexual or racial discrimination, and most of students were found to have gotten bored with it. The conservative student movement was then able to be injected through the widening rift.

Of course, conservative interest groups are behind campus conservatives. These various interest groups are nurturing future members of the Republican Party by financing new conservative campus newspapers, inviting conservative speakers to campuses, and organizing excursions to conservative publishers, among other actions.

Hye-Yoon Park parkhyey@donga.com