The DePaul Conservative Alliance is a group that has received a lot of attention during my time at DePaul University. The Alliance cannot get enough of the limelight and is constantly stirring up controversy at DePaul. The first time I saw it was in January of 2006 when the group held a “bake sale” in the DePaul University Student Center. The bake sale was a platform for the group to push their anti-affirmative action agenda. Conservative Alliance members sat around a table with cookies and brownies that they offered to anyone who walked by.
The hand-drawn poster they had propped up next to then caused more than a stir among many students. The poster listed genders and ethnicities on a scale with the suggested price for each ethnicity to buy a cookie or brownie. The scale read as follows: White and Asian Males $1, White and Asian Females, $.75, and at the bottom of the list were Black, Hispanic or Native American females, $.25.
I was at the student center that day and I saw a lot of students standing around the table yelling at the Conservative Alliance members; once I saw the poster I knew exactly why. I couldn’t believe that a group could be so brazen, but I soon learned this was only the tip of the iceberg.
Later in 2007, the Conservative Alliance invited bigot David Horowitz to speak at DePaul for a forum on free speech. This coincided with the publishing of Horowitz’s book The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America which listed 2 DePaul professors, a Black Muslim, Dr. Aminah B. McCloud and a Jewish Professor, Norman Finkelstein. The forum on free speech was set up by the Conservative Alliance to bash Finkstein and McCloud who they saw as “radical.” I have taken classes with both professors and I would consider them to be some of the least radical professors I have ever had. The Conservative Alliance also brought back disgraced former student Thomas Klocek who was thrown out of DePaul for verbally abusing DePaul’s Muslim organization United Muslims Moving Ahead during a demonstration. He used abusive language towards the Muslim group and also continually referred to Palestinians as “those people.”
The Conservative Alliance’s student leader, Nicholas G. Hahn III, introduced Horowitz and Klocek and later opened the floor for questions. Hahn took it upon himself to stop people when he thought they had said too much and even shouted at some audience members, including DePaul University professors if they said something he didn’t like.
In the academic year 2007-2008, the Alliance continued their not so subtle attacks on immigrants, homosexuals, and Muslims with “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week”, “Conservative Coming Out Day” and 2 new guest speakers, Chris Simcox and Phyllis Schlafly. During Conservative Coming Out Day, they mocked the LGBT community by using gay pride slogans to promote conservatism. The Conservative Alliance used slogans such as “acceptance is the only way” and “Be Out Be Loud Be Proud” to promote being conservative. This blatant homophobia did not go over well with many DePaul students.
In Early 2008 the Conservative Alliance invited Phyllis Schlafly to speak at the university. Schlafly was the most prominent opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment during the 1970s and in recent years has staged a vendetta against “activist” judges and feminists. The guest speaker that caused the most controversy and all but confirmed the Conservative Alliance’s anti-immigrant stance was their invitation to anti-immigrant minuteman president Chris Simcox to speak at DePaul. Simcox’s arrival sparked protests around DePaul and put the Conservative Alliance back in the limelight once more.
The Conservative Alliance likes to tell people that it “seeks to engage the University community in a true marketplace of ideas where vigorous intellectual discussions are paramount” and “the Conservative Alliance is a nonpartisan organization that welcomes and promotes all flavors of conservatism.” The group seems harmless on paper but it needs to be exposed for what it really is, the recruiters of a new generation of anti-immigrant and anti-gay activists. The group at this time is relatively small but has had a big impact on the University as a whole. We must all be wary of groups like the Conservative Alliance which have the potential to be very dangerous.