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Posted: 11/17/2003 8:50:21 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/17/2003 9:00:23 AM EDT by nf_utvol]
The student group I'm a member of here at UT, the Students for Academic Freedom, is a national organization that is fighting to end liberal biases on campus. We have recently been fighting against the university spending obscene amounts of money on liberally biased organizations, namely, the 'Issues Committee', to the tune of $90,000 a year. This organization is tasked with bringing speakers to the university. They are supposed to bring an equal amount of conservative, liberal, and moderate speakers, to get a balanced amount of different views on subjects. Instead of that, they have consistently brought only ultra-liberal leftist anti-American (and I don't use the term lightly) speakers. For instance, I was talking to a conservative friend of mine recently who has been to all of the speakers for the last few years. He said that last year, every single speaker brought ended up comparing the US to Nazi Germany. Finally, after pressure from the SAF, they brought a single conservative speaker, CNN's Tucker Carlson. Surprisingly, he was very conservative. However, they have a long ways to go before they make up for their past record. When I asked one of the Issues Committee members as to why they wouldn't ever fulfill their duty to bring a conservative speaker, his reply was, and I quote, "They cost too much." Yeah, right, you get 90 grand a year. Of course, I didn't know this at the time I asked the question, but I smelled BS in the air.

Anyways, here's an article that one of the SAF members who is also a columnist for the school paper wrote Thursday:

Liberal Issues Committee desperately needs changes

Thursday, November 13, 2003 - Volume 94 Number 60

Printed from DailyBeacon.utk.edu
URL: http://dailybeacon.utk.edu/article.php/12707

Today, I want to talk about a particular recipient of our student fees, the UT Issues Committee. This organization brings speakers to campus, and we all pay to fund the speech of their guests to the tune of $90,000 a year, appropriated to them by the RES Board. The problem is that this group has become a left-wing ideological institution in both its membership and its activity.

First, let's look at membership. Only three of its 25 members are conservative. How's that for balance? I know a number of conservatives and libertarians who have applied. This is not a phenomenon of the Issues Committee simply not getting applicants from the right, but rather institutional bias.

Even the committee's interview questions are liberally biased. I once applied, and was asked, "Should the United States have to consult the U.N., or should they be able to act UNILATERALLY like they did in Iraq?" I can somewhat understand critics who, before the war, said that we cannot act unilaterally. But to say this, after we know that didn't happen? Ask that question to the family of a dead British or Australian soldier.

What's worse is the committee's activities. Last semester was typical with four out of all four speakers being liberals. The speakers invited by the committee have been so overwhelmingly far left, sometimes anti-American, group of characters, including Scott Ritter, Howard Zinn, Ralph Nader and Sy Hersh. In Hersh's defense, he was literally the first Issues Committee event I had been to in a couple semesters where the speaker did NOT compare the United States to the Nazi party. Ritter and Zinn did this last semester, getting huge applause from the committee's regular audience.

Now, in 22 liberals and three conservative's attempt to be fair, they've brought Tucker Carlson to represent the conservative side. This is the first conservative they've had in about five semesters. This is an incremental advance. He was better than I expected, and it was nice to actually see a different group of students in the UC Auditorium. But going from having only liberal speakers who liberals recognize to having the occasional conservative who liberals recognize is still far from balanced. Three years ago, they brought Jerry Falwell, a man whom both conservatives and Christians see as an embarrassment. But if you conservative and libertarian students really want to be depressed, you should know they've been turning down people like Walter Williams and Dinesh D'Souza. Even more depressing, UT-Chattanooga has been having speakers like John Stossel, Ward Connerly, Walter Williams and even Thomas Sowell.

If the Issues Committee thinks that Carlson and Falwell represent the conservative students, then they're as in touch with the student body as the marketers of Clear Pepsi. They've used other excuses for not bringing conservative speakers to campus. One is that people like D'Souza and Williams don't have name recognition. Name recognition to whom? I believe they are being sincere. I'm sure THEY are more familiar with Hersh and Zinn than many people whom conservatives respect. They're simply not capable of thinking for people on the other side of the fence. Once again: 25 members. Three conservatives.

Another excuse for the rejection of certain speakers is that they don't want to bring two "conservatives" in a semester. Again, last semester was just four liberal speakers. At a previous Issues Committee event this semester, one member asked some College Republicans whom they would like to see. One young lady suggested Ann Coulter. The member replied, "We're bringing Tucker Carlson. Same thing, right?" He was being serious. Should I laugh or cry?

Parents are essentially forced to subsidize liberal speech on campus while other speech is being prevented. They are paying $90,000 a year to have their country and their values kicked down and dragged through the mud. What should be done about this? I can think of some quick solutions and some long-run solutions.

The only real long run solution is for the committee make-up to change. Some of the leadership may be graduating soon. But, at this point, even if the committee started only picking right-leaning members, it would take several semesters to achieve balance. In the short run the committee should be audited and have its budget slashed. I'd also like to see the word "liberal" inserted in the committee's name.

Also, many students who have given up on reforming them have started trying to bring speakers here themselves. It will happen, but they don't have the Liberal Issues Committee's money. You can help by donating to UT Student Freedom (http://www.utstudentfreedom.org). This is a new student group who I'll be talking more about in the future.

I make no allusions as to what this column is. This is not an attempt to change a single committee member's mind. This is a desperate plea for help to the community. Take these papers home and tell your parents what they're paying for.


- Sukhmani Singh Khalsa can be reached at sukhmanisingh@yahoo.com


©Copyright The Daily Beacon 2002. All rights reserved.


Link Posted: 11/17/2003 9:08:14 AM EDT
Keep in mind that most students are liberal, which may well explain why most of the members of the committee and most of the speakers are too. After all, you don't see a lot of black sitcoms on T.V. - that's not because there's a big racist conspiracy out there, but because black only make up about 13% of the market, and T.V. responds to that. If most of your students are liberal (which is my guess, then it is perfectly reasonable that most of the speakers are as well). This is a simple market and demand phenomenon.

Of course, if the committee is SUPPOSED to bring a balanced mix of conservative and liberal speakers to college - then it's bullshit, and the should be called on it. You might want to look into that particular claim, though, to make sure it is true. Is there some mission statement or charter for the Issues Committee that says so? Look into that, because if that's true, it seems like they are breaking their own rules and should be called on it.

Of course it IS possible that a bunch of liberal speakers are willing to come for free, whereas well-known conservatives migth want to be paid more money. I'm a little skeptical of that one, but ultimately it is an empirical question. Why don't you contact some of the conservative speakers you'd like to see, and find out how much they cost - and compare that to some of the past liberal speakers. If they are not expensive, then presenting the committee with that info would be a very powerful argument. However, really cool speakers can cost ENORMOUS sums of money, so I guess it's possible.
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 9:27:58 AM EDT

Originally Posted By DK-Prof:
Keep in mind that most students are liberal, which may well explain why most of the members of the committee and most of the speakers are too. After all, you don't see a lot of black sitcoms on T.V. - that's not because there's a big racist conspiracy out there, but because black only make up about 13% of the market, and T.V. responds to that. If most of your students are liberal (which is my guess, then it is perfectly reasonable that most of the speakers are as well). This is a simple market and demand phenomenon.

Actually, we have gotten alot of good feedback on this, with two positive letters in response to this being printed in the paper today. And here at UT, the majority of students are pretty conservative, but the liberal minority is simply the most vocal.


Of course, if the committee is SUPPOSED to bring a balanced mix of conservative and liberal speakers to college - then it's bullshit, and the should be called on it. You might want to look into that particular claim, though, to make sure it is true. Is there some mission statement or charter for the Issues Committee that says so? Look into that, because if that's true, it seems like they are breaking their own rules and should be called on it.

It is against University policy to supply money to partisan organizations. The Issues Committee is recieving money to bring speakers of both sides of issues to the school. This is MY money they are getting, money that comes out of tuition fees. But that is something we need to look into. If they haven't ever claimed to bring a balanced view of speakers, then they shouldn't be recieving money in the first place.


Of course it IS possible that a bunch of liberal speakers are willing to come for free, whereas well-known conservatives migth want to be paid more money. I'm a little skeptical of that one, but ultimately it is an empirical question. Why don't you contact some of the conservative speakers you'd like to see, and find out how much they cost - and compare that to some of the past liberal speakers. If they are not expensive, then presenting the committee with that info would be a very powerful argument. However, really cool speakers can cost ENORMOUS sums of money, so I guess it's possible.



What I'm worried about is that they're getting $90,000 to bring speakers. They shouldn't have any problem bringing any sort of speaker, and if the liberal speakers don't cost anything, then that's $90,000 that they have to bring conservative speakers.

There is something rotten about this organization, and there is no way to explain their recieving almost a hundred thousand dollars to push their liberal viewpoints onto students. We have a copy of the funds requisition form, and they are recieving these huge amounts of cash, while other legitimate organizations (educational organizations, stuff like, say, the latin club), aren't getting any of the money that they request.
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 9:49:47 AM EDT
You guys rock and are hugely important to the conservative movement. Thanks so much for being involved.

DK-Prof, you'd be surprised how many students are conservative/Republican these days.

But the endless bullshit promulgated by academics on their poor captive audience students and PC-groupthink on campuses needs to be challenged. From the news stories I've seen about conservative student groups doing stuff like flying the confederate flag at Howard Dean speeches and affirmative action bake sales, you guys are doing a great job. Pushing their buttons and exposing the hypocrisies of the Left.
Link Posted: 11/17/2003 10:23:40 AM EDT
i would guess the large majority of Clemson students are conservative leaning
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