Webster students applying to form the Webster University Conservatives club hope to bring speakers like Dana Loesch and Ben Shapiro to campus.
Sophomore Mikey Thomas said he experienced prejudice for his conservative political beliefs on campus, but that has not stopped him from trying to create a conservative organization. The Webster University Conservatives (WUCON) is in its final stages of the application process, needing only three more students to become members.
WUCON has completed their constitution and submitted an application to the Student Government Association (SGA)
to become an official organization. The organization will also attend a New Student Organization meeting and is planning on holding a recruitment event on Friday, Sept. 20 from 5:30p.m. to 9:00p.m. in the University Center.
Organizations must complete a five step process to be recognized at Webster. The organization must first create a mission, purpose, and Constitution, and then they must select officers and gain ten members. The group then attends a new student organization meeting before submitting an application to SGA. The final step is being recognized by SGA, which requires a majority vote.
After Thomas read in The Journal last semester that a student almost had her car keyed for her conservative beliefs, he decided to attempt creating the group.
“I just feel like we need it here, especially after reading that article,” Thomas said.
This is not the first time a conservative organization has come to Webster, and there have been multiple conservative clubs on campus. The College Republicans were a Webster organization that lasted until 2011. The Webster Campus Conservatives came after them, and they were only active during the 2012-13 school year.
Thomas said despite Webster’s promotion for inclusion and diversity, many conservatives do not feel welcome.
Thomas said he is often the only outspoken conservative in class. He said he has lost friends over his political views, and professors have said his ideologies are wrong.
While Webster University has created a program centered on diversity and inclusion, including the hiring of a chief diversity officer and hosting an annual Diversity and Inclusion Conference, Thomas calls the university’s efforts “a farce,” claiming they don’t go far enough in protecting people like him.
“We are going to be inclusive, just like Webster claims it’s inclusive, but that kind of gets twisted to conservative students.” said Thomas, “Because you say that you’re including everybody, but we always feel left out.”
Thomas said that the club will be inclusive and will accept any conservative. He said that he is a Libertarian and does not personally support President Trump, but the group will include Trump supporters, Libertarians, and Constitutionalists. He added the organization will also accept students who may not know where they lie on the political spectrum.
While Thomas adds that he does not support transgender rights, people of the LGBT community are welcome to attend. The vice president of the soon to be organization, Vincent Fedorko, agreed that the club would be welcoming.
“Our president is a black man,” Fedorko said. “I’m a bisexual man, so, it’s not just like, we’re putting people into categories. It’s like if you happen to be LGBTQ, and you’re also conservative, join the club.”
Connor MacDonough, a sophomore, hopes this organization will allow him to connect with like-minded students.
“I like liberal people, of course,” MacDonough said. “I did come to a liberal arts college, but I’d like to get to know more people. I’d like to hear some more views of my fellow party members.”
Both Thomas and Fedorko said they would like debates with the Webster University College Democrats (WUCD).
“For us, it’s just trying to show that you can hear both sides of the story,” Fedorko said.
President of WUCD Blain McVey said he supports the idea. He said by working together, they can encourage more student involvement in politics.
“A lot of other college campuses do have debates between the college conservatives and Democrats.” McVey said. “ I’m definitely open to it. I think like I said it kind of fosters a spirit of getting involved.”
Lindenwood University, Saint Louis University and Washington University all have conservative clubs. Fedorko said he hopes that creating a conservative group will encourage bipartisan discussions between students.
Additionally, Thomas said they plan on bringing conservative speakers to campus.
“We’re going to have speakers come here. They’re going to be controversial people,” Thomas said.
He and Fedorko considered inviting conservative speakers to campus. Dana Loesch, a Webster alumna, worked as an active spokesperson for the National Rifle Association. McVey said he felt hesitant about the idea of bringing a spokesperson for the NRA to campus.
“Frankly, I think the NRA has a lot of blood on their hands when it comes to inaction on gun violence in this country.” McVey said.
Fedorko hopes to invite Ben Shapiro, a conservative political commentator, to speak in November. He added that the Webster University Conservatives would try to find people with different political ideologies to have a discussion.
McVey said he would encourage the conservative club to bring lawmakers instead. The Webster Democrats club would then be able to invite the opposition. McVey thought this would lead to a more thoughtful discussion.
“People tend to get caught up on what they disagree about,” MacDonough said, “At the end of the day we’re all Americans, we’re all going to the same school. We have to have something in common.”