Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow is hosting Conservative Awareness Week, four days of speeches and events meant to spur conservative thought on campus.
The event, usually scheduled for the week of Veterans’ Day, was moved to this week to account for the election next Tuesday, Quinn O’Reilly, president of CFACT, said.
“We’re trying to rile up the conservative base this week,” he said.
Laura Gatz , former president of CFACT, founded Conservative Awareness Week in 2006 after the GLBT’s National Coming Out Week.
“I really wanted a place that conservative students of any breed or actually anybody could come and experience what it was like to be a part of a different community, one that’s not really publicized at the U of M,” Gatz said.
The week was meant to give students a view of what it means to be a conservative on campus, Gatz said.
While past years have featured themed days such as “2nd Amendment Day” and “Patriotism Day,” O’Reilly said this year’s events have been geared more toward more moderate students.
This year, that has meant involvement in Monday’s State House District 59B debate, showing a film about environmentalism and hosting conservative author Dinesh D’Souza for a speech Wednesday night.
D’Souza, who spoke on Christianity, Islam and the War on Terror , said the concept of Conservative Awareness Week serves many purposes for conservative students.
“I think part of the purpose of these events is to build the intellectual confidence of the conservative students,” he said. “But it’s also to engage the activists on the left and to persuade students who are in the middle.”
D’Souza said he finds conservatives to be in the minority on most campuses.
“Which is easier to declare yourself at the University of Minnesota; is it easier to come out as a conservative or is it easier to come out as a homosexual?” he said. “Which will put you in a more awkward position within the community?”
Justin Henry , president of U-DFL , called the comment, “absurd.”
“There are plenty of conservatives on campus,” Henry said. “The Republican group is a big group on campus. There is no one that’s really going to persecute you for being a Republican too much here at the University.”
Nico Cruz , co-chair of the Queer Student Cultural Center , didn’t find the comparison offensive.
“I think it might be more awkward to come out as a conservative,” Cruz said. “It would be twice as awkward if you were also homosexual … I can understand why some people might take it offensively but I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.”
Gatz said the intent of Conservative Awareness Week wasn’t meant to be a backlash against other groups on campus.
“Imitation is one of the highest forms of flattery,” she said.