GOP students host ?Conservative Day?

By By Chris Mumford

By Chris Mumford

The morning after President Barack Obama focused national attention on the Democrat-led push for health care reform, the political right got a chance to promote its own agenda with “Conservative Day” on Thursday.

A range of groups8212;including the U College Republicans, Women Against Gun Control, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff’s Senate campaign and KSL Newsradio8212;gathered on the Union Patio to spread different ideas about the present state and future of conservatism, and how more college students can be converted into the fold. The attendees called for a return to conservative fundamentals, such as Second Amendment rights and fiscal responsibility, and criticized the Republican Party’s overemphasis on politics rather than policy.

Mike Brey, a junior in political science who was passing out KSL gear, expressed a dim view of former President George W. Bush.

“(Bush’s) policies were all political,” Brey said.

Representatives from the Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based conservative think tank, urged a return to the founding tenets of conservatism, which they said isn’t currently embodied by one party or another.

“Our goal is always just to talk about what it means to be a conservative,” said Matthew Piccolo, policy analyst for the think tank. “We call it “authentic’ conservative, so not necessarily the Republican version of conservative, but based on philosophical reasoning and principles.”

Attendees hoped this back-to-basics version of conservatism would steer more college students to the right, which could prove challenging in a post-Bush era nation and in a demographic with a tendency for leaning left.

Jade Holman, vice chairman of the Utah College Republicans and a junior in political science, spoke about negative stereotypes of conservatives, as opposed to abandoned ideals, as a major part of the problem facing the political right.

“There’s a lot of stigma that you have to be an old white man to be a Republican,” Holman said, adding that he feels that the liberal mindset is overrepresented on campus.
Likewise, Drew Conrad, chairman of the Utah College Republicans, said he believes that there are many “closet Republicans” on campus who he would like to reach out and bring out of the closet.

“We just want to say, “you’re not alone,’ ” Conrad said.
Less critical of modern conservatism were the gun rights groups at the party, including representatives from the gun rights division of the College Republicans, who passed out gun locks and tried to rally support for the construction of a gun range on the U campus8212;the first university in the nation to pass a concealed carry law.

“A lot of people are scared of guns, which I’m not opposed to them being scared because it makes them cautious and conscientious about fire arms,” said Crystal Perry, a senior in political science who is the gun rights director for the College Republicans and a certified state instructor for fire arms. “But we want to help them understand more about what firearms really are and how we use them.”