Conservatives, welcome back to campus, that bastion of hostility toward your faith, politics and lifestyle, where Marx is revered, common sense eschewed, and multiculturalism matters more than mathematics.
Are you ready for the semester—ready to stand up for those principles, to fight for your right to express opinions that are unpopular, and ready to make a difference for the conservative movement?
Brendan Steinhauser, a former executive director of the Young Conservatives of Texas at Austin, wants you to fight and win battles against liberals on your campus and in order to help you he has some advice.
His advice is contained in a book called, The Conservative Revolution: How to Win the Battle for College Campuses.
While his book includes advice on how to start your own group, it is likely a conservative group already exists on your campus to get involved with. If a group is already formed and has existed for a time, it likely already understands the basics of recruitment and retention so we’ll head straight to getting attention, being active and making a difference.
You will want your group to be known on campus and part of that means getting media attention, writes Steinhauser. Try to get your campus paper to write about your group. If that fails, take out an advertisement in the paper. If you can’t do either of those because of a liberal-slanting staff or administrative choke-hold or because your group lacks the funds, there is another option: “You must make your organization the topic of the news,” he writes.
His group YCT at Austin was so successful at making news and stirring up controversy that people were always writing angry letters to the campus newspaper about YCT, building up the group’s name recognition among students.
A problem many groups face is fundraising, but Steinhauser has advice on this issue too.
“It has been my experience that a student group can operate on very limited funds if it is wise regarding its fiscal matters. Expenses are usually very basic and can include printing costs, as well as supplies for making signs and other materials,” Steinhauser says.
The basic ways to raise money are charging dues, soliciting donations and holding fundraising projects.
Asking for donations isn’t the easiest and should be done face-to-face by a person with great personality who likes asking for money, Steinhauser explains. But that person has to be prepared to show what the group has done for the conservative movement in the past.
Fundraising projects, Steinhauser writes, shouldn’t be anything demeaning or boring. His group cleaned out a special-event center which paid groups a good amount for doing it; they also ushered at football games. Try to find creative ways to bring in funds so that the group members will want to participate.
The next step is finding your allies. Steinhauser writes, “Forming alliances is vital in any type of battle, especially when it comes to politics. Other groups can increase your manpower, support base and exposure for your events.”
Your group should be in contact with the political parties, politicians, think tanks and issue organizations, legislative staff, lobbyists and obviously reporters. By knowing the other players in the movement, opportunities for your group and for group members become more available.
If your group is like most, you likely want to hold some great events and may need some advice on how to ensure they are successful. As Steinhauser puts it, events are the purpose of campus groups because they allow you to state your values publicly and in a unique way, can attract media attention and can help students who agree with your cause to find your group.
“My motto when planning for our events was, ‘Keep it low labor and high visibility.’ We strove to put out a high quality product with an efficient use of manpower,” writes Steinhauser.
Each event should have a specific purpose. You should also have someone prepared to speak to any press at the event who can eloquently express why your group is holding the event and relate it to conservative principles. It is also necessary that you send out a concise and properly written press release so that the media will take you seriously.
Another necessary element of running a campus group is holding regular meetings. Steinhauser suggests making meetings an hour or less and preferably broken up by a video or food in order to keep the attention of members. Always have an agenda, and give short updates on each project that is in the works so that new members know who to contact to get involved. Have someone in charge who can keep people from talking too long during the meeting. Students can always approach that person later for more information.
Those are the basic principles that any group can utilize to be effective on their campus, but students looking for more information can email Brendan Steinhauser at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or requests to purchase The Conservative Revolution. You can also visit the site for more information.
Julia A. Seymour is a staff writer for Accuracy in Academia.
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