SAN FRANCISCO – Like thousands of other conservative-minded college students across the country, some at U.C.-Berkeley (search) are waging war against what they call rampant liberalism on campuses. Their weapon: a right-leaning monthly newspaper called The California Patriot (search).
“We like to be watchdogs,” said Seth Norman, the managing editor of the Patriot.
In fact, more students than ever are taking their minority opinions into the public domain to balance out the messages their peers are getting in the classroom at school.
From the Patriot and The Stanford Review to The Yale Free Press, a growing number of conservative periodicals are now circulating online or on campus – 50 percent more than two years ago, according to Collegiate Network (search), an organization that helps such papers get off the ground.
“In the last year, 35 colleges have contacted us, and of those colleges, 18 have started new conservative publications,” said Bryan Auchterlonie, executive director of the Collegiate Network.
One reason for the sudden increase? The aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when many students became disenchanted with their mostly liberal professors who suggested that the U.S. had it coming.
“Almost every professor here has a political agenda and almost every professor here is pushing that agenda,” said Norman. “The university is moving to take away guidelines that would restrict pushing your political agenda in classrooms, which is one of the stories that we’ve covered.”
The conservative college papers have generally been sticking to issues that affect students. One issue that's been covered, for example, is whether tuition money is being used to fund anti-war rallies without allowing any alternative speakers or opinions.
“It’s not necessarily even about conservatism as an ideology – it’s about showing people that there’s more than one point of view out there,” said Piotr Kosicki, editor-in-chief of The Stanford Review.
The students admit that there are risks involved in taking on liberal teachers and administrators. At Berkeley, thousands of copies of a controversial right-wing newspaper were recently stolen, and student reporters have received death threats.
But since most students form their political beliefs during their college years, those who work for the conservative publications say they feel obligated to present the other side.
"Because we live in such a liberal bastion, we have a duty to provide the other half of the balanced education for students," said Norman.