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College Republicans

(Courtesy of Chris Greenberg/White House via Wikicommons)
(Courtesy of Chris Greenberg/White House via Wikicommons)

Opinions Co-Editor
Published: October 28, 2014

On Thursday, Oct. 21, Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush and current Fox News contributor, addressed students in Keating Hall at Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH). The event, open to all students, was sponsored by the Fordham University College Republicans.

Perino discussed a variety of topics, from her career in the White House as Press Secretary and her thoughts on contemporary American politics to career advice for students. “We, as Americans, never wonder and wallow in who we are. We constantly are thinking about who do we want to be. And that is a frontiersmen attitude,” Perino said in her introduction.

Throughout the night, Perino talked about the future of politics. “You have the potential to be the next great generation” Perino said.  “You do not have to be from some place fancy to end up advising the president in the Oval Office.”

Perino emphasized the importance of civility. “One of the things I found was most important in Washington was to recognize that policy debates are not about good versus evil. They’re about two Americans who arrived at different conclusions about how to get something done.” Perino went on to share personal anecdotes about working with Bush and meeting Barack Obama when he was a junior senator from Illinois.

Perino also discussed her own career path from country music DJ to working at the White House. “The way I got from being a girl in a cattle ranch to being at the White House wasn’t a direct shot,” Perino said. “My message to you in this part of my talk tonight is that you don’t have to have everything figured out.”

In addition to her experience in politics, Perino offered her view on the millennial generation. “Your generation of millennials, you amaze me, you terrify me, you confuse me. I admire you, sometimes I would like to be you,” Perino said.

Perino closed her keynote by reminding students about the importance of American leadership and how our generation will have to take on the difficult political issues of our time. “I think you have a lot of potential as a generation; the technology that is coming forward is astounding but it’s also a very challenging time. You’re going to be asked to be the leader of the free world. The United States is the leader of the world and in my opinion we have to continue to be that because the human condition around the world matters.”

After her speech, Perino answered questions from students ranging from the upcoming presidential election to her experience as a woman in the professional world.

“I thought it was fantastic. One of the best speaker events I’ve ever witnessed at Fordham.” Benjamin Shull, president of the Fordham University College Republicans and FCRH ’16 said. Shull explained that there has been an effort to have more female speakers. “There was an emphasis to get female speakers because we had mostly just had male speakers come in the past few semesters,” Shull said.

Perino is not the first former White House Press Secretary to speak at at Fordham; Ari Fleischer, who also served as Press Secretary under President George W. Bush, was a guest speaker for the College Republicans in 2012.

Fordham University College Republicans’ speaker events have made headlines in recent years. In 2012, the College Republicans rescinded their invitation to Ann Coulter due to a backlash from members of the Fordham community who were unhappy with the choice of speaker. The controversy was reported by news sources outside of the university, including Fox News and the Huffington Post. The following year, the club invited controversial right-wing journalist James O’Keefe. While there was a mild backlash to his invitation, it was not rescinded.

James O'Keefe speaking in Flom Auditorium. (Ian McKenna/The Observer)
James O'Keefe speaking in Flom Auditorium. (Ian McKenna/The Observer)
James O’Keefe speaking in Flom Auditorium. (Ian McKenna/The Observer)

Published: October 24, 2013

“Citizens can make a difference,” James O’Keefe, right-wing journalist, said, later adding, “All it requires is a little bit of nerve, walking up to someone and calling them out.”

O’Keefe, a 29-year-old Rutgers University graduate, spoke in Flom Auditorium on Oct. 24 about his history in the media, corruption in the government, the failure of the media and his New York Times best-selling book “Breakthrough: Guerilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy.”

Throughout the night, O’Keefe showed videos to attendants, totaling less than 100, of his early work at Rutgers, where he posed as an Irish-American offended by the presence of Lucky Charms in the cafeteria, Project Veritas operations, including those that busted ACORN, NPR, Planned Parenthood, and even media reactions, including from such outlets as CNN, Fox News and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

“The people in the White House were just so happy I did this. I am going to get Pulitzers, right?” O’Keefe said of his many videos that unveiled corruption in the government. “No. It was defamation, subpoenas and lawsuits.”

Following O’Keefe’s presentation, students had the opportunity to ask him questions. One student asked if O’Keefe had any remorse regarding the outcomes of his investigations, namely the defunding of certain programs and the firing of government and civilian workers.

“If the truth is this bad, that people get fired, than thats the reality. Would you rather censor the truth so there is no consequence?” O’Keefe said

“The only thing better than getting rid of media bias is getting the media to cover our stories,” O’Keefe said.

“Stay tuned. We have a big project coming out in a couple of weeks,” O’Keefe said of Project Veritas’ future.

O’Keefe’s book was available for purchase and signing after the event.

Luke Zaro, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’16 and president of the College Republicans, opened the meeting by announcing an event with Alisi, a discourse on race and politics, to be held Nov. 5 co-hosted by the College Republicans and Asili.

Managing Editor
Published: February 27, 2013

The College Republicans announced on Feb. 27 that conservative journalist and author George F. Will has been approved to speak at Fordham, in place of conservative personality Ann Coulter.

The typical cost of Will as a guest speaker is listed as “$40,001 & up,” according to the Washington Speaker’s Bureau’s website, an agency that represents Will in speaking engagements.

However, according to Theodore Conrad, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH)  ’14 and president of the College Republicans at Rose Hill, Will will be appearing on campus for a price comparable to other speakers invited to Fordham.  Conrad said he is awaiting final budget approval from SABC. As previously reported here, Coulter was to be compensated with $10,000 before the event was cancelled. The Coulter event was cancelled on Nov. 9, 2012 in response to student backlash against the Coulter and the College Republicans’ decision to invite her.

George Will (Courtesy of The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT)
George Will (Courtesy of The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MCT)

At “An Evening with George F. Will,” the OrgSync page for the event states, “Pulitzer prize winning journalist, author, and political commentator, George F. Will, will address the [student] body about current political issues (debt, entitlements, immigration, guns).” The event description also said that the College Republicans “100% expect a capacity crowd, as Mr. Will is the most distinguished and well respected person ever to speak on behalf of the College Republicans at Fordham University.”

The event will be held on April 11 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Keating’s first floor Auditorium.

Theodore Conrad, (FCRH) ’14 and president of the College Republicans at Rose Hill, said about the selection process, “George Will had always been high on our list. So, we immediately tried to pursue him and we were able to make it work.”

“He is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, author, he is highly regarded as one of the pre-eminent conservative writers and thinkers of, certainly, my generation and maybe the generation before me. So, when you look at his complete body of work, he is the type of person that the College Republican group would love to bring to campus,” Conrad said.

Following the Nov. 9 announcement to disinvite Coulter to campus, many supporters, board members, and alumni of the College Republicans were unhappy. “I think everyone is proud that we are bringing a speaker of the caliber of Mr. Will,” Conrad said of the latest announcement.

A dialogue was opened between the College Republicans and Will following the Coulter controversy.

“I have been communicating with Mr. Will directly for the past few months, with him personally and his secretary.  I’ve been trying to figure out a way to bring him up to Rose Hill,” Conrad said.

Even after the public backlash from students of Fordham and even a public, university-wide statement from Fordham President Joseph M. McShane, S.J., Conrad said that he and the College Republicans did not waste time in attempting to “[get] out there and […] find the best speaker, arguably, that we have ever brought to campus.” While many notable speakers have been brought to campus by the College Republicans, Conrad said , “George Will is in a class of his own. And people from the right and left both respect him tremendously for his contributions to the political discourse.”

“I think this was a learning experience for all of us,” Conrad said of the reaction to Coulter, “but we are happy that we are getting a speaker like Mr. Will and I think it is good for our club, it is good for the Fordham community, and we are happy to provide Fordham with such a high-caliber speaker.”

To read The Observer’s complete coverage of the Ann Coulter controversy, click here.

Ann Coulter. (KRT/MCT)

For more information on student organization against the Ann Coulter event, Father McShane’s email or faculty and student reactions, click here

Managing Editor
Published: November 9, 2012


On Nov. 10 at 12:46pm, Fordham President Joseph M. McShane, S.J., released a new statement regarding the College Republicans decision to cancel the Ann Coulter event scheduled for Nov. 29 in light of recent student reactions.

Below is the entirety of McShane’s message:

University Statement | Ann Coulter Appearance Cancelled

November 10, 2012Late yesterday, Fordham received word that the College Republicans, a student club at the University, has rescinded its lecture invitation to Ann Coulter.

Allow me to give credit where it is due: the leadership of the College Republicans acted quickly, took responsibility for their decisions, and expressed their regretssincerely and eloquently. Most gratifying, I believe, is that they framed their decision in light of Fordham’s mission and values. There can be no finer testament to the value of a Fordham education and the caliber of our students.

Yesterday I wrote that the College Republicans provided Fordham with a test of its character. They, the University community, and our extended Fordham family passed the test with flying colors, engaging in impassioned but overwhelmingly civil debate on politics, academic freedom, and freedom of speech.

We can all be proud of Fordham today, and I am proud to serve you.

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President

Below, originally posted: Nov. 9th, 6:05pm

“We have decided that it was in our best interest to cancel the event,” Theodore Conrad, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’14, said.

Conrad, president of College Republicans at Rose Hill, has announced that the club is canceling Ann Coulter’s scheduled appearance on Nov. 29 in the interest of the Fordham community.

Ann Coulter. (KRT/MCT)

The decision was arrived at by Conrad early this morning, well before Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J. and president of Fordham, sent an email upholding her scheduled appearance.

“I do take responsibility in not doing the proper research,” Conrad said. “We did not properly vet a potential speaker for Fordham University.”

“The things that she said are not things our club stands for or anything at Fordham stands for and I feel we would be doing a lot of people a diservice in bringing a speaker like that to Fordham. The bad outweighs the good in this.”

“We were not aware of comments that had been previously made,” Conrad said when the decision to book Coulter as a speaker was made in September.

“That wasn’t really appropriate from our university president. I love the president of my school but I think that if he had reached out to us before writing that email, he would have known [our situation]. I already met with Dean Rodgers and let him know what was going on. I think the president should have reached out to us,” said Conrad of Father McShane’s open letter to the university.

“It was hurtful to hear some of those words in regard to our organization,” Conrad said. “A lot of people give a lot of time and hard work. But for him to publicly call us out, not only to the student body but to alumni, I think that was unfair. This club has done a lot of good things on campus and to be recognized publicly for the first time I can remember was unfair and hurtful.”

The group had originally appealed for conservative author and journalist George Will but were not awarded the sufficient funds. In his place, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain was selected as a possible speaker, but after hearing rumors of Cain’s cancelations with other schools while still under contract, they were forced to find another speaker who would cost less than the $10,000 they were given.

Minutes before this post was published, Conrad wrote an email to his executive board and members informing them first of the decision. It can be read in its entirety below.

The College Republicans regret the controversy surrounding our planned lecture featuring Ann Coulter. The size and severity of opposition to this event have caught us by surprise, and caused us to question our decision to welcome her to Rose Hill. Looking at the concerns raised about Ms. Coulter, many of them reasonable, we have determined that some of her comments do not represent the ideals of the College Republicans and are inconsistent with both our organization’s mission, and the University’s. We regret that we failed to thoroughly research her before announcing, that is our error and we do not excuse ourselves for it. Consistent with our strong disagreement with certain comments by Ms. Coulter we have chosen to cancel the event and rescind Ms. Coulter’s invitation to speak at Fordham. We made this choice freely, before Father McShane’s email was sent out and we became aware of his feelings – had the President simply reached out to us before releasing his statement he would have learned that the event was being cancelled. We hope the University community will forgive the College Republicans for our error, and continue to allow us to serve as its main voice of the sensible, compassionate, and conservative political movement that we strive to be. We fell short of that standard this time, and we offer our sincere apologies.

Ted Conrad, President
Emily Harman, Vice President
Joe Campagna, Treasurer
John Mantia, Secretary