Azusa Pacific Conservatives Hearken Back to University's Principles

Campus Reform Reporter
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When I met with Ashley Blackwell, a student at Azusa Pacific University (APU), she told me how disappointed she had become with the state of things on her campus. She signed on at APU with the understanding that it was a private, Christian institution that advanced the biblical teachings she believed.

And yet the course offerings were often left-leaning in their approach, and the campus institutional culture seemed out of touch with her principles. In one interaction with her dormitory resident advisor, Ashley was told she was "not a real woman" for being pro-life and having skeptical views on the feminist movement. 

This shocking experience motivated Ashley to take an even larger role in her campus conservative student organization, the Young Conservatives of Azusa Pacific University.

Ashley thought it was time to take a stand on her campus for the ideas that encouraged her to study there in the first place. In cooperation with the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, and the Leadership Institute, she is changing the discussion on campus by inviting conservative speaker Kate Obenshain to give a talk on her views of the failures of the modern feminist movement.

Obenshain was a former Chairwoman of the Virginia Republican party and is a fellow at the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute. 

But just because Ashley resolved to bring in a speaker didn't mean it would be smooth sailing from then on. She encountered opposition from the very start. As she promoted the speech on campus, she found her event posters being torn down and defaced.

One leftist vandal who must have thought themselves rather clever even draw a Hiteresque mustache on Ms. Obenshain's photograph. 

But when Kate Obenshain took to the podium in her informal lecture-style talk to a standing room only crowd of about 100, she was well prepared to take the heat and stand by conservative students on campus.

She praised Ashley Blackwell for wanting her views to be heard at her university, even if it meant being ostracised for challenging the status quo. She reminded students that too often they are taught what to think in the classroom rather than how to think for themselves while exploring many different ideas.

"The university is supposed to be about the free and open exchange of ideas. It's not supposed to be about a liberal orthodoxy that controls thought.", Obenshain said.

In her speech, Kate Obenshain reviewed her arguments on "The Failures of Feminism", a title which brought out students from all political viewpoints, including opposition from the local feminist movement.

Obenshain described how her arguments against the Feminist movement were not based on the idea that women should be equal under the law (she pointed out how she had a vested interest in that), but rather that the inextricable binding of the feminist movement to the American political left has prevented feminism from addressing very real concerns for women in America and around the world.

While she highlighted how the rejection of traditional values among feminists has had many negative consequences for women, including a diminished value for marriage and the rights of the unborn, Obenshain also asked the audience how many feminist leaders and organizations are really working to tackle poverty and unemployment among women, or the rights of women abroad in countries governed by shariah law.

Obenshain offered arguments for why free-market policies would improve the standard of living for women, and how the automatic leftism of the feminist movement prevents the subject from being broached.

She also decried what she called the hypocrisy of the National Organization for Women, which claims on its website to want parity in Congressional representation between men and women but then refuses to ever endorse conservative female candidates for Congress.

For all the initial pushback Ashley received in wanting to set up the event (the university didn't exactly roll out the red carpet for this visiting speaker), the event was a success for the Azusa Pacific Young Conservatives, one they hope to repeat next term with another visiting speaker on the failures of affirmative action policies.

Do you want to bring a noted conservative speaker to your campus? Contact your Campus Reform Regional Field Coordinator to learn more. 

Kate Obenshain with APU Conservatives