A Youth for Western Civilization-sponsored event featuring former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo was recently shut down by protesters.
Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo
A student group that bills itself as "America's right wing youth movement" focused on countering radical multiculturism, socialism and mass immigration is causing a stir on a growing number of college campuses across the country.
The conservative political group Youth for Western Civilization is currently organized on at least seven university campuses. According to its Web site, the group hopes to inspire Western youth on the "basis of pride in their American and Western heritage," counter and ultimately defeat "leftism on campus" and create a social movement in which a right-wing subculture is an alternative to what it calls a "poisonous and bigoted" campus climate.
"A great part of college is definitely meeting people of different backgrounds, but a multicultural ideology teaches that we should appreciate things just because they're different from our culture with no regards to the quality of the culture and that all cultures are inherently equal," said Trevor Williams, president of YWC's Vanderbilt chapter. "I absolutely disagree."
But students who lean left are not welcoming their new neighbor. Those opposed to YWC say its message teeters on hate speech and has no place at institutions of higher learning.
"'Western' is a veiled term that means 'white,'" University of North Carolina graduate student Tyler Oakley wrote in an e-mail to FOXNews.com. "I believe that our democracy is strong enough to allow extreme forms of speech, but YWC's message is essentially a negative one, an assault on not being white or non-Western, and is therefore hateful, if not blatant hate speech."
While its numbers are small, YWC members hope a well-publicized April 14 event featuring the group's honorary chairman — former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo — at UNC's Chapel Hill campus, will help mobilize conservative students and attract new members.
Tancredo's speech opposing in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants was shut down after a window was smashed and a banner reading "No One Is Illegal" was unfurled across the former Republican lawmaker's face. One UNC student, Helen Elizabeth Koch, was arrested for disorderly conduct in the incident, which was widely distributed on YouTube and is also featured on Youth for Western Civilization's home page.
Officials at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which identifies and tracks hate groups in the U.S., told FOXNews.com that the YWC is not currently on its list, but some of the group's views are "suspect," including the notion that Western civilization is somehow superior.
In February, following YWC's debut at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, SPLC linked the group's founder, Kevin DeAnna, to several posts on the Spartan Spectator, the Web site of Michigan State University's chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.
SPLC identified MSU-YAF as a hate group in 2007; DeAnna vehemently denies posting the material attributed to him.
"We're definitely monitoring them," said SPLC spokewoman Heidi Beirich. "We will look at them for hate group status."
DeAnna, a deputy field director for the Leadership Institute, a conservative education group that paid Tancredo $3,000 for his UNC appearance, said YWC has roughly 10 active members at each of its college chapters. Aside from UNC, DeAnna said YWC has a presence at Vanderbilt University, American University, Elon University, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Connecticut-Storrs and Bentley University.
"It's kind of a loose thing right now," said DeAnna, a 26-year-old graduate student in international relations at American University. "But we're concerned with issues of mass immigration, curriculum, racial preferences and multiculturism on college campuses."
The group will sponsor another speech by Tancredo on Wednesday just off campus from Providence College, where school officials recently denied a request from the still unsanctioned group to host the former congressman, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2008.
Tim Dionisopoulos, president of YWC's unofficial Providence chapter, said Tancredo plans to speak "right in front of the gates" at the 4,000-student university and to head to a Veterans for Foreign War event. Providence officials say YWC has not sought formal recognition as a student group and thus cannot host an event at the Rhode Island college. But Dionisopoulos says the college is hiding behind protocol.
"We've been unfairly targeted," the political science major told FOXNews.com. "The content scares administrators because this is a group that will stand up for what they believe in. I don't think they're opposed to our mission statement, I think they're moreso afraid of what the opposition will do to us and have done to us elsewhere. Eventually, someone's got to come out and say this has got to stop."
Jesse Jones, a freshman at Vanderbilt, where YWC hosted former U.S. Treasurer Bay Buchanan last month, acknowledged the group's right to organize and share its views.
"But their fascist-like logo, their name echoing 'Hitler Youth,' and Tom Tancredo's call of 'this is your country — take it back' all quite frankly scare me," Jones wrote in an e-mail to FOXNews.com.
Jones said he's also disturbed by the group's call to restore a "curriculum that focuses on Western history, not political correctness," according to its Web site.
"They want to change the curriculum to emphasize 'classical learning' and get rid of 'trendy multiculturalism,'" Jones continued. "In practice this means firing professors with the wrong views and hiring those with the 'right' views.
"Even assuming there is a 'right' view on a given issue, the point is to get students to come to this opinion on their own, given the facts. In this way, YWC's views on education are inherently anti-intellectual."
Tancredo, meanwhile, says he'll continue to appear at colleges as an invited guest of YWC. Its mission to "promote the survival of Western civilization and pride in Western heritage" is all about celebration, he says.
"It's got nothing to do with racism, it's got nothing to do with extremism," Tancredo told FOXNews.com. "It has to do with celebrating the benefits Western civilization has brought to mankind, not the least of which is the concept of law. It's designed to bring attention to the issues, discussions and points of view that aren't readily available in the typical classroom on liberal colleges run by left-wing loonies."