Conservative SIUE students mounting troop rally

Ann Knef Nov. 2, 2005, 8:31am

Lt. Col. Scott Rutter in Iraq

Carving a niche in what he calls a bastion of liberalism, Andrew Kassebaum is a college conservative on a patriotic mission.

The former president of the Conservative Student Organization (CSO) at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville is organizing a rally for U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the campus' Meridian Ballroom.

"We're trying not to let the campus fall to anti-war, anti-American, counter culture like in the days of Vietnam," said Kassebaum, a senior.

When asked if he was concerned that his position might offend those opposed to the war, Kassebaum replied, "hopefully it does.

"We're the positive response to Cindy Sheehan," said Kassebaum. Sheehan is the mother of a fallen soldier who has gone on to stage anti-war protests with Jesse Jackson in different parts of the country.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Scott E. Rutter, a regular contributor for Fox News and a recent embedded reporter during the Battle for Fallujah, will be the rally's keynote speaker.

Rutter, a professional speaker for the Young America Foundation, is a Bronze Star for Valor recipient and rifle company commander in Desert Storm. He also commanded the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, a component of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division which served as part of the main effort in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Kassebaum, who claims the CSO has become the most well-known campus organization, said he is proud of inroads made in the last two years since the group formed.

"We plan activities and are goal-oriented," he said. "There is a change. You notice it in the classrooms."

Last spring he recalled that an English professor used class time to opine on the U.S. president's performance.

"She said, 'Bush is an (expletive)'," Kassebaum recalled.

"I approached her after class and said our group was going to be charting comments like hers," said Kassebaum. "She said, 'I want to be on your list'.

"When she knew we were serious, she apologized," said Kassebaum.

The Nov. 9 rally is free.

"We're trying to pack the place," Kassebaum said.

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