SIUE's conservative student group wants to launch newspaper

Ann Knef Mar. 3, 2005, 3:15am

A.J. Givens and the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Conservative Student Organization are frustrated by constant run-ins with the editors of the campus newspaper, The Alestle.

Conservative views are suppressed and readers are exposed to imbalanced discourse, Givens claims.

So with some help from the Virginia-based Leadership Institute, a conservative group which aids college campus activities, Givens hopes his organization can launch a “conservative-type” newspaper by the fall.

“The effort is to counter the blasting we get in The Alestle,” Givens said. “(The Alestle) is all one-way. There is not a balance. Their cartoons consistently blast Republicans and blast us.”

Attempts at getting a conservative message out to the thousands of students who roam across campus have continually been thwarted by detractors, Givens said. As soon as fliers are posted around campus, they are defaced.

“We just want to raise student awareness and awareness in the community,” said Givens.

“We Stand Up to Liberalism,” a statement on one of its recent fliers, was severely criticized in the campus newspaper. The flier depicted CSO’s treatment to that which was faced by rebellious students at the hands of the Chinese government at Tianamen Square.

“College Republicans across the country are not getting equal access and representation in their student newspapers,” he said. “They’re also not getting equal funding.”

Dan Proft, a political consultant with Chicago-based Urquhart Media LLC and publisher of Illinois Leader, an online conservative news source, said the treatment Givens and the CSO receives is eerily familiar.

While he was a college student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Proft helped found the Northwestern Chronicle in 1992, an alternative to the student newspaper, the Daily Northwestern.

"It was the same story," Proft said. "We were discriminated against by lack of office space and funding. Our papers were stolen and dumped. We were protested against. We were kicked out of the student union."

The final showdown came when the paper was "de-recognized" by the student government. But the fix came from the influence of former student, conservative activist Charlton Heston. He gained support from journalism professors who were compelled to agree with the Chronicle's right to freedom of expression.

The Northwestern Chronicle still exists.

"You have to stand up for what you believe and call out the hypocrisy otherwise you will be bullied into silence," Proft said. "The only way to remedy bullies it is to shine the light on them. Bullies shrink from it."

Givens said fliers like the one which used a picture of Tianamen Square end up offending some people.

“But we also end up gaining new members,” he said. “It helped energize our base.”

If the group is successful in its attempt to start a newspaper, Givens said the editorial board would be “open to balance.”

“It’s fine to criticize the (Bush) administration,” he said. “What we have in the Alestle is one-sided half-truths.”

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