What Does It Mean to be Conservative in College?

Being conservative on campus means being willing to stand up for oneself, and stand up against our generation’s political leftism.

Today, young conservatives face the most difficult challenges they have ever faced. College campuses have become ever more leftist, to the point where conservatives have become the minority on nearly every campus. Conservatives face the difficult choice of remaining silent, and letting the left monopolize political discourse, or standing up and facing the consequences of rejecting the prevailing beliefs of their generation. What type of consequences? Perhaps just harassment and limited job prospects if you are lucky, arson and assault if you are not. The fact that most professors are left of center means it is not merely leftist students that a conservative must deal with, but also professors and the university itself. University after university has caved to the demands of those espousing social justice, often to the point of absurdity.

The left have clear goals with regard to what they stand for and what they want to change, but those goals are often unattainable. Arguing that systemic racism must be eradicated, supposes that there is systemic racism in America, and that we can somehow end it with enough protests and government intervention. Conservatives, on the other hand, reject these calls for radical change and defend the freedoms and institutions that have made America the greatest nation in the world.    

Being conservative means supporting the Constitution, a document that protects our rights and liberties. The First Amendment-protected right to freedom of speech is under attack from not only the left, but many in the center as well. This right is the first to go when freedom begins to wane in nations throughout history, and must be protected at all costs. The cancel-culture mob thinks they have a right to ruin someone’s life for speaking against the mob. The idea that you are justified in unleashing a vicious assault on someone’s livelihood for disagreeing with what they say is troublesome, as it discourages the free exchange of opinions. In Silicon Valley, big tech now uses partisan censorship to control who can be heard, and what they can say, while still being protected as platforms. This again stifles free speech, as huge companies with monopoly like control now become the arbiters of truth and opinion. 

Another right that could arguably be called even more important than the First Amendment, is the Second. The right to keep and bear arms serves as a guarantor of all the other rights. Arms allow every American to not only protect themselves, but protect the rights of others from any threat. Whether that threat is a criminal in your home, a shooter at your school, or ATF agents sieging your farm. These rights are protected by the institutions of America, which represent another important aspect of conservatism.

Being conservative means supporting the institutions of America, but rejecting the abuse of them. The police, military, and our government serve important roles in protecting the rights enshrined in our constitution, but that does not mean they are exempt from oversight. Recently, however, fueled by anarchists that have hated all authority for decades, the police have been under unceasing attack from those who want to see them defunded. This anti-police movement has grown rapidly in the last several months, and represents an assault not only on the police, but the rule of law in America. As seen in Portland and Seattle, when the police are not allowed to enforce the laws of our nation, anarchy and violence ensues. This does not mean some police do not abuse their power, for we have seen it several times in recent memory, but to use that as reason to abolish the police as an entity is absurd. 

Our military has protected our rights against foreign threats time and time again, which is why every veteran deserves our respect and admiration. Yet, our military can be abused as well, by being used in needless foreign conflicts. Our wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam represent conflicts unwinnable with the resources we were willing to use, and led to thousands of American deaths. Our military is best used as a strong deterrent to our enemies, instead of being used to trying to mold nations into what we want. Politicians in Washington, unelected state department officials, and generals have often led us into these conflicts that drain our tax dollars and cost our soldiers’ lives. 

The Federal Government receives the most criticism of these institutions, and rightly so, for it is the most abused. Government bureaucracies invade our lives, whether it is through the NSA illegally collecting our information, or the IRS targeting individuals for their political beliefs. Yet despite these abuses, the system of government we have in place is still constrained by our constitution and the ballot box. As a democracy, we not only have the power but the duty to vote those out who try to abuse their powers.    

A Conservative on a college campus has other duties as well. They must work to get real conservatives elected, and work to vote out those who betray their campaign promises or use their position to enrich themselves. They must be debating and searching for the conservative answers to our nation’s problems. They must stand up and stop the left from getting what they want, for ground lost is not easily retaken. Campuses are the battleground for our nation’s political future, and while we may be down and outnumbered, we are not out of it yet. Being conservative on campus means being willing to stand up for oneself, and stand up against our generation’s political leftism. 

Cover photo taken by Rebekah Wendt.

Pro-Life Memorial Attacked

On Wednesday, Sep. 30, a pro-life memorial at the University of North Texas (UNT) was attacked. The memorial, composed of 1,000 pink flags and a few informational signs, was set up earlier that day by the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) to commemorate the victims of abortion. Each flag represented 60,000 lives lost to abortion since the 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade.

The memorial after vandals took down the flags (photo taken by Madison Mills)

“The memorial was intended to help students understand the impact of abortion in a meaningful way,” says Kelly Neidert, chairwoman of YCT at UNT. “We were wanting to draw attention to overturning Roe v. Wade because that’s being talked about a lot in the political sphere with Amy Coney Barrett being the SCOTUS nomination.”

UNT student tweeting about plans to vandalize the memorial

Before it was even placed, UNT students who were hostile to the idea of the memorial were already threatening on social media to take it down. Many tweeted their intentions to take down the memorial in response to YCT’s announcement of their memorial a week before it was placed. “Can’t wait to spend a Wednesday night ripping out a [sic] 1000 flags” said one twitter user, with many others expressing similar sentiments. “Looks like I’ll be tearing them up,” threatened another, who also sent a direct message to Neidert encouraging her to kill herself. 

Many of these students were angry about the memorial’s pro-life message. They were also concerned that YCT was able to conduct such an activity despite UNT’s restrictions on student organizations hosting events due to COVID. YCT had direct permission from the school to place the memorial.

Soon after the memorial was placed, vandals attacked it, removing and stealing 350 of the flags as well as the display signs meant to inform UNT students about the purpose of the memorial. They also refused discussion while lobbing profanities at the YCT members who were there to witness the vandalism.

“I was appalled when I saw students planning ‘capture the flag’ games on twitter, and I honestly didn’t think they would go through with it,” says Neidert, who is a constant target of threats from students who disagree with her and with YCT. “It was so disappointing to see the vandalism and theft that occurred over such a sensitive topic.”

UNT student tweeting about plans to vandalize the memorial

One individual has been apprehended and cited for vandalism and theft. 180 of the flags have since been recovered.

Cover image taken by Madison Mills

Why Does Trinity Need the Tower?

I think The Tower has the potential for positively contributing to debates on campus and bringing voices that are not usually heard in everyday discussions.

Last year, The Tower saw a drastic increase in its readership. With this spike comes a natural stream of criticism that carries the same undertones. “Why not just write for the Trinitonian?” “Why create an echo chamber for Trinity conservatives?” I want to address those criticisms in this piece.

The underlying assumption in these critiques is that campus discourse should belong exclusively to campus-sanctioned publications. To deviate otherwise is to disrupt the flow of campus discourse. Before I move forward, I want to clarify that I am only speaking for myself, not for The Tower editorial board or for the other staff writers. Personally, I think the arguments against The Tower are unsubstantiated but fair criticisms.

I chose not to write for the Trinitonian, but not because of any incompetence or unfriendliness at the paper. My interactions with the Trinitonian staff, though few, have been nothing but positive, and I have nothing but respect for people who put themselves on a strict timetable for writing and publishing articles. I’m willing to give the Trinitonian staff the benefit of the doubt and assume they are good people that I can respect. 

Nonetheless, there are reasons I choose to write for The Tower on a regular basis over the Trinitonian. For one, generally speaking, I can write longer opinion columns for The Tower, which allows for a more in-depth discussion of whatever issue I am writing about. I tend to prefer longer columns as they tend to avoid the shock-inducing one-liners that usually saturate shorter columns. I also joined The Tower as an opinion writer because there were no other regular non-conservative writers at the time. There still aren’t. Finally, the editorial board has a very flexible timetable for its writers and is more lenient with late articles, giving us busy, unpaid writers the space and time we need to write good pieces–though, to be frank, I don’t think every article we’ve published has been superb.

But speaking as a non-conservative writer for The Tower, I will say that accusations of a lack of intellectual diversity are unwarranted (though it shouldn’t shock anyone that a conservative magazine is staffed predominantly by conservatives). The Tower editorial board has been nothing but friendly in bringing and retaining me on the opinion staff. Many of the other staff writers have spoken positively about my articles.

I will conclude by inviting those who are more liberal-minded to consider writing for The Tower. I am dead serious about this invitation. If The Tower is willing to have me, I imagine it would not be a problem having a few liberals become regular columnists. If that is too much, people are more than welcome to submit guest columns to the editorial board. If anyone has any doubts about what The Tower is willing to publish, check out my arguably progressive column that takes a personal angle in the debate about transgender people (which was published alongside a conservative counterpoint). And if that is not enough to attract more left-leaning writers, The Tower is open to publishing non-political articles. At any rate, I doubt that The Tower is going anywhere soon. If anything, I think The Tower has the potential for positively contributing to debates on campus and bringing voices that are not usually heard in everyday discussions. 

In Defense of Civil Discourse, Free Speech, and Friendship

Shutting down hate speech only makes those speakers become martyrs for their causes and paves the way for more polarization. In that sense, those speakers become stronger, not weaker.

I have always been predisposed to defending the idea of civil discourse, defined as a discussion between two or more people where emotions are tempered and reason is emphasized. I could not see how anyone could oppose such an idea. I brushed off any criticism of the idea and I thought no less of it.

Of course, nothing is free of criticism. There are those who would argue that civil discourse and free speech allow for the dehumanization and marginalization of minority groups. The main criticism is that free and open discourse allows for–and even endorses–hateful opinions; for example, opinions that deny someone else’s existence (e.g., forced conversion therapy should be legal). Similarly, those who advocate for civil discourse (usually free speech “extremists”) operate from a position of privilege – these people have never had to deal with the consequences of free speech, which is being on the receiving end of hateful and spiteful opinions that may not call for violence against individuals or a group (which I think everyone can agree is the line between acceptable and unacceptable speech), but allow for marginalized people to be further marginalized. Allowing such hateful speech and opinions to be said opens those opinions to normalization, or for their positions and sentiments to be watered down, presented, and therefore more gullible to moderates. 

I am not going to argue that this argument is wrong; rather, I think it is a legitimate argument that warrants assuaging, not falsifying. If anything, it is not really an argument at all, but a cry for addressing genuine concerns about who participates in political discourse.

To begin, I am what some would call a “free speech absolutist” with very few ifs or buts. I am very skeptical of those who harass or shut down other opinions because “they are not worth wrestling with.” I do not find any value in deplatforming certain people other than those who would openly call for violence (as for hate speech, most opinions that get labeled as such are not really hate speech). There are more nuances, but you get the point.

Moving forward, I think the issue is the foundation upon which virtually all modern political discourse rests. That foundation is the assumption (and the fear) that it is acceptable to use the awesome power and violence of the state to impose our political beliefs on others. Personally, I think this assumption needs to be challenged, as I feel that most people are inclined to shut out other opinions because it would involve the creation of a reality that is unconscionable: a reality that is defined by people being forced to do something against their will.

Realistically, I do not think many people will accept this argument, as many political ideologies are heavily reliant on using force (read: the state) to enforce its public policy prescriptions, which is why I think we should return to the defense of civil discourse. The purpose of it is quite simple: it is designed to create equanimity where there is none. It is purposefully designed to create a space for people who normally get left out or are very easily left out of a conversation (in other words, people who are excluded). 

Besides, shutting down hate speech only makes those speakers become martyrs for their causes and paves the way for more polarization. In that sense, those speakers become stronger, not weaker. Alex Jones is still around, championing the cause of free speech to the mainstream even while being barred from multiple social media platforms. Milo Yiannopoulos only gained more notoriety when more calls were made to shut him down, and he only fizzled out after a combination of financial trouble and public comments defending pedophilia. 

It is easy to get emotional in politics, especially when there are objectively bad policies out there, both enshrined in law and floating around in public discourse. But there is no reason that we cannot reasonably deconstruct prejudiced policies in a fair and respectful manner. To reiterate, I think that the breakdown of civil discourse is likely to lead to more polarization, dehumanization, and tribalism, which has a greater chance of exacerbating extremism. It may well be the case that civil discourse marginalizes oppressed people by allowing “harmful” opinions to float around. However, shoving those opinions into a dark corner does nothing to eliminate it and has the opposite effect. Those opinions gain a following, unencumbered and unchecked by any rational counter-viewpoint, and become more radical and violent. 

In the end, politics is and always will be a toxic forum for discourse. Not a minute goes by that someone in the political world does not receive a death threat online. By extension, there is so much hate and divisiveness out there. The solution I would offer is this: more friendship. Friendship allows for more mutual understanding to take place between people of differing opinions. Personally, I’ve benefited immensely from befriending both liberals and conservatives, sometimes even outright extremists. A few of my friends are libertarians, and I’m okay with that. The goal is not to insulate myself from other opinions, but to expose myself to wildly different opinions and figure out what motivates people of different ideologies. I’ve found that I’ve grown in my understanding of politics and subsequently become more tolerant and understanding of different opinions. I think if we had more people doing the same, we could come to conflict resolution more quickly, safely, efficiently, and effectively. 

Religion, Noise, and Dr. Seuss

On Tuesday, March 26, Dr. Isaac Weiner gave a lecture “When Religion Becomes Noise” at Trinity University. Dr. Weiner has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and currently serves as a faculty member in the department of Comparative Studies at Ohio State University.

Weiner’s lecture discussed religious pluralism in the U.S. and the way that public religious sounds, such as Christian church bells or the Islamic call to prayer, complicate the issue. He explained that sounds are more invasive than sights, and are more likely to be the cause of complaint.

This begs the questions: Which sounds get classified as merely “noise” and which sounds are tolerated on the basis of religious freedom? Which sounds are “out of place” and which sounds belong in the public sphere? How do religions coexist? How are Americans inclusive without becoming oppressive?

“I want people to think about the relationship between our public culture and our assumptions about the kind of society we want to build,” said Weiner. “What we’re willing to tolerate in public says something about what we aspire to be as a society.”

According to Weiner, only the sounds of the majority typically prevail. The majority has the ability to reclassify their sounds as secular in order to justify their presence. For example, a church’s bells are not a call to the service, but a secular marking of time; Christmas is not a religious celebration, but rather a national holiday.

Weiner referred to a well-known children’s book, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to illustrate his point. The Grinch’s heart grows three sizes after the Whos are unaffected by his attempts to ruin Christmas, and he joins in with the Whoville caroling. Weiner asked attendees to imagine a more sinister reading of the story, in which the Whos’ singing is forced upon the Grinch, a minority, who is then forced to assimilate to their attitudes and join in their sound. As it turns out, this is the reality of religious pluralism in the U.S. today.

Weiner presented several historical examples of regulation or repression of religious sounds, including St. Mark’s church bells in 1870s Philadelphia, Jehovah’s Witness sound cars in 1946, and the Islah Islamic Center’s call to prayer in Hamtramck, MI in 2004.

Each of these case studies is heavily discussed in Weiner’s book, Religion Out Loud: Religious Sound, Public Space, and American Pluralism. In each case, the sound is treated differently depending on the majority opinion and tradition.

For example, in Hamtramck, MI, many claimed the Islamic call to prayer was “out of place” in the historically Polish Catholic city where church bells were practically a part of the landscape. In one sweep, people could suffocate the sounds they didn’t want to hear and replace them with ones they did. In cases like this, the minority finds itself unable to make sound and instead forced to join in with the noise of the majority, as the Grinch does with the Whos’ caroling in Dr. Seuss’s story.

“As we negotiate what it means to live in a religiously diverse society,” said Weiner, “we must continue to work toward the full inclusion of all religious communities in our public and civic life.”

The public sphere should be a place for the freedom of religious expression, including religious sound. Oppression of minority expression is not an option for Americans who wish to build a better and more virtuous society.

The lecture was sponsored by the Trinity University Humanities Collective as part of their current focus on the First Amendment, particularly the freedom of religion clause. On April 8 at 5:30pm in Chapman Auditorium, Trinity University will host another religion scholar, Dr. Nicola Denzey Lewis from Claremont Graduate University, to speak on lost ancient Christian documents from Egypt.

Photo by Kathleen Arbogast.

The Darsch Report: March 18 – 24

Chick-Fil-A Banned from San Antonio Airport

On Thursday, March 21, the San Antonio City Council approved and amended a seven-year concessions agreement for new restaurants and businesses in Terminal A of the Texas airport with Paradies Lagardère, a travel retailer and restaurateur that works with more than 100 airports. The amended plan bars Chick-Fil-A from being one of the businesses able to be in the terminal despite the initial plan allowing them due to concerns over the company’s record regarding LGBT issues. The amendment was approved by a 6-4 vote.

In a statement after the vote, Councilman Roberto Treviño (District-1) stated that the decision “reaffirmed the work our city has done to become a champion of equality and inclusion. San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.”

In a statement given to USA Today Chick-fil-A said that “the press release issued by the councilmember was the first we heard of his motion and its approval by the San Antonio City Council.”

“We wish we had the opportunity to clarify misperceptions about our company prior to the vote. We agree with the councilmember that everyone should feel welcome at Chick-fil-A,” the company said in the statement. “In fact, we have welcomed everyone in San Antonio into our 32 local stores for more than 40 years.”

This consideration was only made for Chick-Fil-A after ThinkProgress reported that they had donated $1.8 million to groups that discriminate against the LGBTQ community in 2017, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. However, since it was only Chick-Fil-A who was barred, it wouldn’t be that surprising is the company starts making claims of discrimination that they were discriminated against.

Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Collusion

The investigation by led Robert Mueller into the Trump campaign and possible collusion with the Russian government has officially ended. The report was given to Attorney General William P. Barr and a summary of the special council’s key findings was made public on Sunday.

In the summary, Barr quotes the report stating that “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” The summary states that there were two main Russian influencers in the 2016 election, the Internet Research Agency and the Russian government, but, “the Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated with the IRA in its efforts… [and] the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

However, on the issue of obstruction of justice, the report states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Because of the nature of the evidence presented to them, with it not pointing one way or the other, the special counsel left the decision of prosecution up to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and AG Barr. They concluded that “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” so there will be no indictment and prosecution of President Trump regarding obstruction of justice.

This report flies in the face of many in the mainstream media and in politics who for the past two years have constantly talked about how Trump is guilty, even before all the facts were examined by the special counsel.

Trump Free Speech Executive Order

On Thursday, March 21, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities” meant at improving free speech on college campuses.

The order makes clear that at colleges and universities, public or private, that receive federal funding must adhere to the first amendment regarding on-campus activities or risk having those funds pulled.

The order states that it is the policy of the government to “encourage institutions to foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate, including through compliance with the First Amendment for public institutions and compliance with stated institutional policies regarding freedom of speech for private institutions”.

Further, the order also states that it will help students and borrowers avoid mountains of student loan debt by making “available, by January 1, 2020, through the Office of Federal Student Aid, a secure and confidential website and mobile application that informs Federal student loan borrowers of how much they owe, how much their monthly payment will be when they enter repayment, available repayment options, how long each repayment option will take, and how to enroll in the repayment option that best serves their needs”.

This order, whether more symbolic or legitimate is a nice step toward promoting free speech on college campuses for everyone on the political spectrum. For more information regarding this please read about the experience of one of our editors who was invited to attend the signing of this executive order.

Houston Chemical Plant Fire

During the weekend, residents near the ITC plant in Deer Park, Houston were urged to stay informed as another fire broke out at the chemical plant and cleanup from the fires continued. The fire has been extinguished but, Francisco Sanchez, Harris County’s deputy emergency management coordinator, said: “Our hope is this does not happen again, but should it happen we’ll be ready to respond.”

As cleanup efforts continued throughout the weekend,  the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has confirmed dangerous chemical levels in the waters near Buffalo Bayou and in the Houston Ship Channel.

In a Saturday press conference, officials stated that three tanks caught fire on Friday and more problems arose when a dike holding contaminated runoff from the firefighting efforts broke.

“Our main objectives today is to maintain safety, second thing is to do some remediation of the ditches, and then lastly, is to resume product removal,” ITC incident commander Brent Weber said.

The Houston Ship Channel will continue to remain closed, and officials said there’s no time table on when it will reopen after chemicals were released into the waterway.

There is no threat to the public drinking water in Houston but officials need to make sure that cleanup is done as swiftly as possible to mitigate the damage done to the Buffalo Bayou and the Houston Ship Channel. Officials also need to look more into the cause of not only the fire but the dike breakage as well as and come up with ways to prevents this from happening in the future.

US Economy

It was not a good week for US stocks over the past week. The Dow Jones decreased to 25,502.32 on Friday, decreasing by -346.55 points, or -1.34 percent under its Mar 15 close of 25,848.87. The S&P 500 decreased by -21.77 points or -0.77 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -2.46 percent.

Fear of a recession and a global economic slowdown are the main forces behind the drop in the stock market over the past week. However, with China trade talks still going on and a delegation set to meet on April 3, a trade deal made between the US and China and an end to the tariff war between them will go a long way to cooling slowdown fears. Also with the Mueller investigation into the Trump campaign having ended the stock market may take it as a sign of a more stable government and bump stocks back into the positives over the next week.

Trinity Student Invited to White House

On Thursday, March 21, Trinity student Maddie D’Iorio attended the signing of Executive Order 13865 and President Trump’s remarks in the White House East Room. D’Iorio was invited after being fired from her position as an opinion columnist for the Trinitonian, Trinity’s school newspaper. Around 60 other college students were also invited.

Last month, activist Hayden Williams was assaulted at UC-Berkeley, where he was assisting the Turning Point, USA (TPUSA) chapter. Williams is a field representative for the Leadership Institute, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides training and assistance to nonpartisan conservative student groups, like TPUSA chapters. Shortly after, President Trump spoke about the incident at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MD, including his plans for the executive order.

D’Iorio was fired from the Trinitonian on February 27. “[T]he situation had nothing to do with the content she was producing or the perspective she was offering, rather with her position as an executive editor of [the Tower],” wrote Trinitonian editor-in-chief Julia Weis in an email.

D’Iorio is the lifestyle editor and the deputy editor for the Tower and began as a Trinitonian columnist in August. “[Getting fired] was really quite surprising,” said D’Iorio. “I told them in January that I wasn’t planning on working after that semester, because I felt that opinion columnists should really only have a year, to allow another student to have their voice be heard the next year.”

In a January 21 email to D’Iorio, Weis described steps that the Trinitonian staff took to avoid a potential conflict of interest, including removing her from the back-end of the website to avoid the appearance of the two publications sharing stories.

“We talked about the fact that there might be a conflict of interest with the Tower, but I thought that it was all taken care of because they said we had reached a solution,” said D’Iorio, adding that she “didn’t understand why the situation had changed.”

After her termination, D’Iorio shared the news with Manfred Wendt, executive director of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT), a statewide organization with chapters at several schools, including Trinity. Wendt is also a Trinity alumnus (class of 2018).

“I told Manfred because he’s a friend,” said D’Iorio. “I didn’t expect that he would actually do anything with it, so being invited to the White House was a total surprise.”

In preparation for the signing of the order, the White House began searching for students to invie. Through Wendt’s personal and professional network, D’Iorio’s name came to the attention of the White House Social Office. D’Iorio and two other Texas students, including Saurabh Sharma, chairman of YCT statewide and the YCT chapter at the University of Texas, were invited to attend the Thursday event.

Bernadette Tasy, a masters student in speech pathology at Fresno State University and leader of Fresno State’s Students for Life of America (SFLA) chapter said “I am grateful for President Trump’s support for the students across the country who have been silenced on our college campuses, including myself.”

Tasy stood behind Trump during his remarks and the signing of the order. The Fresno State SFLA chapter found itself in a legal battle after a professor erased their chalk messages in 2017. “Our free speech has been shut down by administrators, professors, and other students. Today’s college students are tomorrow’s legislators, judges, and voters, so it’s critical that our universities uphold the value of free speech,” said Tasy.

Dr. David Crockett, chair of Trinity’s political science department, wrote in an email that “there are always issues with campus speech codes and with bureaucratic barriers placed in front of student conservative groups trying to bring speakers to campus. I would say that the state of free speech at Trinity is fairly healthy.” D’Iorio echoed Crockett’s sentiments in saying that “generally Trinity is on the better end; our administration for the most part is pretty welcoming and accepting of different views.”

Crockett added that Trinity is not without challenges, noting pushback after a March 2018 Facebook video highlighting Trump’s 2016 digital director and 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale, Trinity class of 1999. “I haven’t witnessed attempts to squelch it [free speech]–although there have been examples of alumni who threatened to withhold funds from the university because it recognized Brad Parscale in some online format last year.”

“It might just be a product of us being in the south and being in Texas, but I think generally people are nicer. I talked to a few other students, and people are just downright rude to them all the time and they have to deal with it every day,” D’Iorio said of general campus attitude towards conservatives. “We sometimes get a small portion of that, but it’s really nothing in comparison to these other schools.”


Watch the signing of the tningon YouTube.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article have been thoroughly fact checked and examined for bias by Nathan Darsch and Isaiah Mitchell, the other editors for the Tower. D’Iorio did not edit the article.

Update: this article has been lightly edited for clarity.

Photo by Maddie D’Iorio.

The Darsch Report: Feb. 25 – Mar. 3

Physicians vs Homeland Security

Immigration advocates say they’ve noticed more infants under the age of 1, most of them sick, are being held at Dilley’s family detention center. Eleven mothers with babies ranging from 5 to 11 months old have arrived at the South Texas Family Residential Center since last week, according to the Dilley Pro Bono Project. Two were released this week.

On Thursday, Feb 28, the Dilley facility and Physicians for Human Rights sent a formal complaint to the Department of Homeland Security and Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties over infants being held in a family detention center.

RAICES, a statewide nonprofit that advocates for immigrants, said in the last five months, it has documented more than 24 clients that were under 3 years old at the Karnes Detention Center, the only other family detention center in the country. Most were under 18 months, and two were 1 year of age.

PHR and RAICES say that many of the babies are losing weight, sick and that the facilities are ill-equipped to meet their needs.

The DHS said in a statement to the Express-News that “comprehensive medical care is provided to all individuals in ICE custody. Staffing includes registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, licensed mental health providers, mid-level providers that include a physician’s assistant and nurse practitioner, a physician, dental care, and access to 24-hour emergency care.”

Hopefully, the issue is resolved as fast as possible and the answers are given as to the state of these children and how they are being treated.

Taxpayer Funded Lobbying

On Wed, Feb 27, a bill was heard in the Texas House State Affairs Committee that would bring an end to taxpayer-funded lobbying.

Freshman State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R–Wallisville) filed House Bill 281, which would ban the practice in Texas, just days before 86th legislative session gaveled in.

“This legislation levels the playing field between urban and rural Texas in the legislature. It also levels the playing field between the taxpayers and those who are often paid to work against them,” Middleton told the committee in his opening remarks.

“The funds that are used to pay lobbyists divert money away from important community services and instead line the pockets of Austin lobbyists,” Middleton added. “House Bill 281 encourages direct communication between local communities and state legislators by removing this costly taxpayer-funded middleman.”

Middleton was not only in his remarks though as droves of citizens came to speak in support of the bill.

Those representing local officials and taxpayer-funded lobbying organizations predictably testified against the reform, claiming it would all but bar them from keeping up with the legislature and engaging with their lawmakers.

The Texas Legislature should pass this bill as this can act as a way to have politicians listening more often to their constituents instead of lobbyists in the capital. It would also save taxpayers millions of dollars that can be better spent on education, healthcare, etc.

Trump Demands Free Speech on College Campuses

President Trump announced during the Conservative Political Action Conference that he would soon be signing an executive order mandating colleges and universities take steps to guarantee free speech to attain federal research grants.

“We reject oppressive speech codes, censorship, political correctness and every other attempt by the hard left to stop people from challenging ridiculous and dangerous ideas. These ideas are dangerous,” Trump said. “Instead we believe in free speech, including online and including on campus.”

“Today I’m proud to announce that I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research grants.”

It was also stated that colleges and universities that refused to follow the mandate would face heavy burdens on their budgets.

“If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many other great young people and old people to speak. Free speech. If they don’t, it will be very costly,” he warned.

Hayden Williams, who was brought to the stage before the speech, is a conservative activist who was punched in the face at the University of California at Berkeley last month while assisting the university’s chapter of Turning Point USA.

This is almost certainly federal overreach by the president and I would heavily advise Trump to not go along with this executive order unless he has the legal team prepared to defend it. Trump should instead turn to Congress and have them pass a law protecting free speech on college campuses.

Economy

It wasn’t a good week for US stocks, with a few gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones decreased to 26,026.32 on Friday, decreasing by -5.49 points, or -0.02 percent under its Fed 22 close of 26,031.81. The S&P 500 increased by +11.02 points or +0.39 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by +0.90 percent.

However, the 4th quarter GDP report for 2018 also came out this week and points to some good news for the US economy. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the US economy grew by 2.6% in the fourth quarter, above the expected 2.4%. This means that from where the US GDP was at in the 2017’s fourth quarter, GDP grew by 3.1%. This gives a big boon to Trump as he wanted a return to the US having 3% GDP growth or more a year.

Trump-Kim meeting

On Thursday, Feb 28, President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un had their second face-to-face meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam.

During the meeting, Trump presented Kim with a similar deal to what had been offered to North Korea by the past few administrations: North Korea would trade all its nuclear weapons, material, and facilities for an end to the American-led sanctions squeezing its economy.

Despite warnings from several of Trump’s aides telling him that Kim would never accept total nuclear disarmament, Trump disagreed. He believed that because of the relations Trump and Kim had been building up for the past year, as well as the two leaders personalities, he could get Kim to agree.

Ironically though it would be Trump who would eventually walk away from the deal. Kim believed he could get a more modest deal from the US and had negotiated for an end to the sanctions most harmful to its economy, those enacted since 2016 in exchange for the dismantlement of the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

With advice from Sec. Pompeo, Trump opposed and walked away from the deal on grounds that it would make it look like he had been duped and that Kim’s offer “still leaves missiles, still leaves warheads and weapons systems,” in North Korea’s hands.

Whether you were expecting Trump and Kim to come to a deal or not, the fact that President Trump was willing to walk away should be applauded. North Korea has already made a guarantee that there will be a third meeting and now know the president will not be short-changed out of a mutually-beneficial deal.

UT Federalist Society Hosts Campus Free Speech Symposium

On Jan. 26, the Texas Student Chapter of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative and libertarian lawyers and law students, hosted a “Campus Free Speech Symposium” at the University of Texas (UT) School of Law in Austin, TX. Judges, professors and free speech advocates spoke on panels discussing free speech on college campuses.

The first panel was about the “Chilling Effect and the Suppression of Student Speech.” Nicky Neily, the president of Speech First, an organization dedicated to protecting students’ right to free speech on college campuses, addressed college speech codes in which terms such as ‘unwelcome’ or ‘offensive’ speech are ubiquitous. These codes shift the questions from “what was said?” to “is someone offended?” In response, students tend to censor themselves in order to avoid potential sanctions. Neily criticized how colleges are teaching students to tattle when they are offended instead of addressing the issue themselves. “What’s happening on campus isn’t staying on campus, and that should bother us,” said Neily.

UT Professor of Philosophy Tara A. Smith explained that speech regulations are illegitimate because “no language is inherently offensive” and it is impossible to define offensive speech because ‘offensive’ is fundamentally subjective. Smith also claimed limits on speech are ineffective because they cause self-censorship, which “treats symptoms but not the disease.”

“Silenced ideas do not dissolve … they persist.”

UT Professor of Philosophy Tara A. Smith.

UT Law Professor David M. Rabban disagreed with Smith’s First Amendment absolutism and expressed his belief that there is “some speech that could be regulated on a campus but not in the public square.” Rabban is comfortable limiting speech he finds “unnecessary to the expression of ideas.” As an example, Rabban suggested that for a student to make a claim such as “homosexuality is a disease” is fine, but to call another student a crude name which makes fun of homosexuals disrupts learning and is okay to limit. Neily said she understood Rabban’s concern but is “distrustful of any administrator having the power to draw that line.”

Ken Paxton, the Texas Attorney General, gave the keynote address. Paxton praised the Federalist Society for its work defending the Constitution. As a twist on the popular saying, ‘I may disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it,’ Paxton claimed the Left is now saying “I disagree with what you say, and I will fight to the death for my right not to hear it.”

The next panel focused on the current state of free speech on university campuses. Neily explained how campuses silence students not only with direct speech regulations, but also by imposing extra fees and security expenses on ‘controversial’ speakers, not recognizing certain student groups, and much more. “Campus free speech is the most important issue in America today” Dr. Thomas Lindsay, the director of the Center for Innovation in Education for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said. Lindsay believes students are being silenced by “those with stronger vocal cords, those better at intimidating other students.”

Photo by Julia Westwick

Mr. Hiram Sasser, the General Council for First Liberty Institute, spoke with Aaron Streett, the chair of Baker Botts’ Supreme Court and Constitution Law Practice, and University of Virginia School of Law Professor Douglas Laycock about religious liberty and associational rights.

Streett and Laycock discussed at length the Supreme Court case Christian Legal Society (CLS) Chapter v. Martinez, in which the University of California Hastings College of Law would not recognize the CLS chapter as a student organization because it required students to hold certain Christian beliefs, and California law requires student organizations to not discriminate based on status or beliefs. The Supreme Court held that the CLS’s First Amendment rights were not violated because the law was viewpoint neutral.

“Many laws are neutral in their face but are not neutrally applied,” said Streett. Laycock supported Streett’s comment, adding that many groups impose certain exclusions, but conservative Christian groups are disproportionately attacked by campus administrations and in court.

There were approximately 30 people in the audience. The symposium was open to all members of the community. The audience was mainly comprised of young professionals and many Federalist Society members. Four students from Trinity University’s chapter of The Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) were in attendance. Isaiah Mitchell, chairman of Trinity’s YCT chapter, said he was “surprised to learn that Texas campuses are so restrictive when it comes to speech codes. It’s just one more example of how our state isn’t as free as outsiders think.”

Also in attendance was Ashley Vaughan, Communications Director of YCT’s state board. “As a recent UT [alumna], it’s very encouraging to know there are ongoing conversations about free speech on campus. Free speech and the ability to openly debate are essential to a healthy university campus,” said Vaughan.

“Commie Cookies” in Coates

If you were walking through Coates Student Center on October 16 around lunch time, you probably noticed members of the Trinity chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) passing out fortune cookies with “fortunes” regarding Mao Zedong and the founding of the People’s Republic of China in October 1949. Cookies stated facts about Mao’s reign in the form of fortunes- “you will kill 60 million people” or “you will starve innocent families.”

YCT Chairman Isaiah Mitchell had the idea for the event. “We love to talk about human rights violations until communism’s legacy enters the discussion. I wanted to remind people about the bloody history of communism in a fun way, just because people remember a joke better than a pamphlet,” Mitchell said. A post on the YCT-Trinity Facebook page stated that the purpose of the table is to “raise awareness about Mao Zedong, who founded the People’s Republic of China 69 Octobers ago.”

According to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s 2017 annual report on U.S. attitudes towards socialism and communism, 58 percent of millennials preferred either socialism, communism, or fascism to capitalism, but 69% of them were unable to accurately define socialism and communism. With this table event, YCT hoped to spread awareness about undeniably evil acts- like Mao’s responsibility for the deaths of over 60 million people.

Photo by Maddie D’iorio

With support for far-left ideologies like communism, socialism, and fascism on the rise among college students, informing students about the actual legacy of these governments is more important than ever, according to Senior Chinese Language major Ian Kavanagh, who has spent time living and studying in both Taiwan and mainland China. “Communism results in mass starvation, genocide and misery,” Kavanagh said, adding that in communist China, “over 100 million people have died since the inception of the state, including over 40 million unborn children.” 

Reactions from students were mixed. Some left-leaning students were skeptical about the “angle” that YCT was taking. Mitchell acknowledged that while the organization is ideological, the aim is to inform students about the atrocities Mao committed, believing that the humanitarian and economic record of communist regimes speak for themselves. 

Next year, Mitchell hopes that the club will be able to repeat the event on the exact anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, October 1. Next year will be the 70th anniversary. He also hopes that student organizations at other schools will adopt the event in order to reach more students.