Alternative Voices on Campus

| February 24, 2003

Newsflash: Conservative organizations are better galvanized than their liberal counterparts. Tired story (incompetent leftist can?t produce a fart with a can of beans). Typical setting (college campuses across America). Or is it?

On the surface, it appears to be another variation on a worn-out theme. Organizations like the Collegiate Network and Leadership Institute fund approximately 80 conservative college newspapers, viewing them as, ??a conveyer belt? that stretches from academic research to marketing and mobilization,? report Emma Ruby-Sachs and Timothy Waligore in The Nation. Meanwhile, alternative college publications struggle with issues of underfunding and frenetic organization. Alternative publications are filled with ??[people] who want to be fighting the good fight? ? but ??lose sight of the end goals,? where conservative newspaper alumni ?fill the ranks of think tanks and Capitol Hill offices as well as journals of opinion and other media outlets.? This is especially true for students on conservative college campuses.

A deeper look reveals two angles often neglected when generalizing the ?liberal condition,? both in American media in general and in college publications specifically. First, the alternative press demonstrates that ?a separate publication devoted to opinion journalism can make a much greater impact than a few scattered op-eds in the established daily paper.? In 2001 Dartmouth Free Press procured an advance copy of the college?s report on institutionalizing diversity. As a result, Free Press produced an entire issue analyzing the report from many perspectives. By contrast, the mainstream campus daily printed a brief article after the report was made public. Second and most importantly, alternative publications are subject to censorship and loss of funding for publishing criticism of the establishment. Look for an upcoming Supreme Court ruling that will determine whether Governor?s State University?s Innovator is a non-public forum subject to censorship by college administrators.
?Erin Ferdinand

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