Last night was the premiere of a new ABC television series called FlashForward. The premise of the show is that in the first episode, every person on the globe blacks out at once, and that during the black out, each person experiences a vision—they see themselves six months in the future. Hours after the blackouts, FBI agents trying to put the pieces together decide to create a website where people around the world can compare their visions and seek answers.
The scope and detail necessary to create such a website is hard to imagine—until you visit CampusReform.org. This website does not try to make sense of a global disaster, but it does confront a problem in the world of higher education. It won’t be used by the whole world, but it’s big enough that it could. It doesn’t seek to reconcile 6.8 billion visions of the future, but it does unite one common vision: making the conservative voice heard on campus.
CampusReform.org was created by the Leadership Institute, which trains students in conservative activism, to be “a one-stop resource, networking, and instruction center for conservative activists to take back their campuses from leftist domination.” Students who want to create or sustain a conservative campus group can use the site to connect with like-minded others and “fight for the hearts and minds of the next generation.”
But is “leftist domination” putting it too strongly? Do conservative student groups really face that much discrimination and harassment? Numerouscases show that they most decidedly do. NAS is politically non-partisan. We do not take positions on issues such as health care, immigration, and foreign policy. And we believe that reason, civilization, intellectual freedom, civil debate, and the pursuit of the truth are principles that transcend the political lines that have traditionally divided most Americans. But we also believe that CampusReform.org has a potentially vital role to play in helping the beleaguered partisans of American conservatism get a fair intellectual shake at our universities and colleges.
The website itself is vast, comprising 2,376 subsites for each of America’s colleges and universities. The idea is that students will locate their institution’s site and network with others (students, parents, alumni, faculty members, and the broader community) to come up with new ways to combat leftism on campus. Each subsite, coordinated to match the school colors, has its own blog and listings of student groups, events, and conservative jobs in the area. At each college subsite, students can also identify “leftist faculty” and review “biased textbooks.” The success of CampusReform.org depends on its ability to attract thousands of students to fill its subsites. But it seems well positioned to do so, given the need of many conservative students for rallying points. Beyond the website, Campus Reform has created a powerful media storm, complete with its own Twitter-frenzy, YouTube-land, and Facebook fan following.
Historically, conservatives have favored the ways of the past—which is why they sometimes fall behind the left in using technology to get organized. But Campus Reform breaks out of the mold to help give this generation’s conservatives a forward-thinking cause. We can’t envision exactly what this movement will look like six months from now, but we imagine it will become an important tool to help students confront the frustrations of political correctness on campus.