CPAC Panel: Kim Jong Un-iversity

Madison Dibble

The Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) brings thousands of conservative students to National Harbor each year to listen to speakers and Republican thought leaders in a semi-cultish fashion. This year, CPAC featured a panel of student leaders in a panel titled “Kim Jong Un-iversity: How college campuses are turning into re-education camps.”

Townhall’s Katie Pavlich’ hosted the panel consisting of Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk and Marcus Fotenos, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF)’s Grant Strobl, Leadership Insititute’s Stephen Rowe, and College Republican Chair Chandler Thornton. 

TPUSA, Leadership Institute, and YAF are nonprofit conservative groups focused on capitalism and bringing conservative speakers to campus. College Republicans are the affiliate group of the party focused on connecting youth to the party. 

The panel began with just Kirk and Pavlich talking about being guest speakers on campus and rehashing battle stories from protests they have faced. Pavlich faced protests at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Kirk’s TPUSA events are frequent targets of Antifa protest. Both spoke at the University of Minnesota without incident. 

“Universities want diversity of skin color. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that. But they don’t want diversity of ideas,” stated Kirk. 

Thornton echoed his sentiments. “It isn’t easy to be [a college republican], but it is exciting.”

Each of the members discussed what they are doing to counter the “thought police” on campus. 

Rowe’s Leadership Institute publishes and sponsors the writers for Campus Reform. Campus Reform works to cover leftist bias on campuses across the country. They have highlighted stories including a University-sponsored “liberal fight club” which trained leftists on how to attack conservatives.

Fotenos and Strobl both worked with campus government. Fotenos became student body president of University of Colorado Boulder and Strobl worked to counter his university government including a campaign that forced professors to use the pronouns written in by students. In an attempt to counter this, Strobl started a poll to get pronoun suggestions on social media. He ended up choosing “his majesty” so, to this day, his professors must use “his majesty” instead of he/him/his. 

While Strobl’s effort is nothing more than a glorified troll, Fotenos is actually implementing important changes and lowered student fees to save his peer’s money. He also worked with state legislators to ensure that free speech zones were eliminated from public universities so that “every square inch of campus” was a free speech zone. Fotenos says these changes

These leaders do believe they are implementing change in the campus narrative. Rowe believes he is “planting seeds of conservatism” by highlighting campus bias with Campus Reform.  Kirk stated that the popularity of Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and many others are a “byproduct of the left.” 

The panel came to a consensus when asked what non-students could do to help out: stop donating to leftist universities and work to get conservative reagents. “A lot of the professors are just punks. They don’t value reason and truth,” stated Fotenos. “We need conservative 

Kirk said to hit them where it hurts. “Unless you attend Hillsdale University, do not give money to higher education. Give money to the solution, not the problem.”