Youth for Western Civilization Defeated

Meghan Conway, The Cowl (Providence College, Rhode Island), December 10, 2009

Over 100 students attended the Student Congress meeting on Tuesday, during which the voting members of Congress voted down legislation that would have made Youth for Western Civilization a proposed club, 16 to 12. Congress hotly debated the proposed club at last week’s meeting. A specific issue was first raised at the Dec. 1 meeting was the appearance of Providence College as a chapter of the national organization on the YWC Web site before Congress had officially sanctioned it. Other members of Congress opposed the group.

{snip} [Tim] Dionisopoulos said that he would like to bring speakers to campus to speak to students such as political figures. The discussion then turned to issues of Youth for Western Civilization’s affiliation with the National Chapter of YWC.

“I think PC students’ memberships to the national organization should be independent of Providence College,” said Skye Hawkins ’12. “If Tim [Dionisopoulos] were willing to disassociate his group from the national organization of Youth for Western Civilization, I would urge Congress to put forth a new piece of legislation which would state this distinction.”

Dionisopoulos opposed the suggestion. “First off, I really can’t accomplish any goals with my organization without affiliation with the National Youth for Western Civilization because we wouldn’t get any speakers, funding, or connections,” said Dionisopoulos. “They have never done anything wrong and have been well behaved on every single campus. We cannot be an effective organization if we don’t have national affiliation.” Dionisopoulos then spoke of the club’s longevity. “We have six members here tonight and a lot of freshman support,” said Dionisopoulos. “We have a lot of members on our Facebook page–and we’re hoping to grow once we can finally work with SAIL.”

Some students felt uncomfortable with YWC’s mission statement. On the national Web site under the “Our Mission” page it says, “We have the self-evident right and duty to work for the survival of our own culture and civilization. . . . There is no reason to believe that the advances of modernity and the political freedoms we enjoy will endure with the extinction of the civilization that allowed them to exist. Western Civilization is our civilization and in spite of the continual assault and hatred it endures from the radical left, we wish to revive the West, rather than see our civilization be sent to the graveyard of history.” {snip}

Providence College graduate student Jonathan Paquette discussed how the group would treat Islam. “We are actually quite interested in discussing the relationship between the Muslim world and what we understand to be the western world,” said Paquette. “We are not in any way ethnically or culturally monolithic, and everyone is welcome to join. We are more of an intellectual group than anything else. We are mostly rightist, but are not exclusionary and would not ban a Muslim member if they joined.”

{snip}

Not all students felt that the group was in violation of the College’s mission. Katrina Lapinsky ’12 took a different standpoint on the organization. “I think this club has a possibility to bring some educational enrichment to this campus,” said Lapinksy. “I see students here who aren’t normally active on this campus and are finally participating. . . . If Tim [Dionisopoulos] and his group are being truthful about what they want to accomplish, I think that it can bring something to PC that we don’t have. However, I think minorities on this campus are worried for their safety because of the stigma of this organization and I think safety needs to be highlighted. I think the way the group is being proposed right now doesn’t necessarily make the student body feel safe and there are a number of ways this can be fixed, like possibly removing itself from national organization.”

{snip}

Angela Marathakis, academic skills specialist at Providence College, expressed her concern with the club in terms of students feeling safe. “I was asked to come here by some of my own student athletes who feel threatened by this club on campus,” said Marathakis. “So, I want you to know that there are a lot of people who feel uncomfortable with this on campus.”

Marathakis was not the only person to express a fear for safety on campus. “As a woman of color and a daughter of immigrants, I feel highly uncomfortable with this group and on this campus,” said Naomi Brown-Jones ’11. “To already have to struggle so much as a person who looks like me in a classroom daily, I don’t appreciate having to struggle against a group in my extracurricular activities that has stigmas like this. On this campus I want people to welcome me and foster my growth.”

The members of Youth for Western Civilization did not respond to the comment.

{snip}

Paquette made a closing statement before the vote. “By shutting us down, by confining us to the shadows, aren’t you really just telling us to ‘shut up and go away?'” said Paquette. “I think you should be a little bit more grown up than that.” Following Paquette’s remarks a motion to vote was approved, and the proposed legislation was voted down to a round of applause.


If I were the conventional college student, during my undergraduate years I probably would be keeping my mouth shut, paying open-jawed homage to everything my professors say, and joining a few benign clubs to boost my résumé. I was already an “individual of interest” on campus, but I was officially deemed persona non grata once I took the plunge and attempted to start up a chapter of Youth for Western Civilization.

Providence College, an ostensibly Catholic institution, seemed to me like a perfect fit for a chapter of Youth for Western Civilization since the school already requires a 20-credit, two semester course on Western Civilization and has received top ratings from the conservative Cardinal Newman Society. I was wrong.

The first sign of trouble was when our group’s request to bring former Congressman Tom Tancredo to campus for a speech on the topic of illegal immigration was rejected by the college without any legitimate reason. Congressman Tancredo defiantly decided to come anyways and gave a speech at the gates of Providence College which resulted in great deal of media coverage.

As the start of the 2009-2010 school year drew near, I contacted the members of Student Congress and attempted to have our chapter officially recognized. By becoming an officially recognized club, we would have the ability to book rooms, host events on campus and generally convey our point of view to other students in a respectable fashion. Despite numerous delays, including changes to the club recognition process while we were in media res, the members of our chapter patiently waited for nine months in order to get a hearing. After various administrators determined that our mission statement did not conflict with that of the college, the process dictated we would be put before two full sessions of Student Congress.

These two meetings with Student Congress could justifiably be likened to the Salem witch trials, as every possible rumor was deemed truth, every lie as true as gold, and every accusation beyond the pale of doubt. The few sane voices in the room were drowned out by the mass of ill-informed leftists who were on a divine mission from the gods of multiculturalism to prevent our club from receiving a fair hearing.

This farce included administrators arriving to claim that our mere presence on campus would be intimidating to the student athlete population on campus and would dissuade further recruits from wanting to attend Providence College. Additionally, a self-described woman of color protested that “to already have to struggle so much as a person who looks like me in a classroom daily, I don’t appreciate having to struggle against a group in my extracurricular activities that has stigmas like this.” These and other absurd indictments continued until, eventually, the feel-good culture of the accusatory echo chamber reigned and Student Government voted us down, pausing only to applaud their own courage.

What is most significant about this whole ordeal is that Student Congress was even given the power to vote us down. In order to become an officially recognized group on campus, we needed two-thirds approval of the notoriously left-leaning Student Congress members. In other words, Providence Student Congress is vested with the power of de facto censorship of any political opinions they disagree with. This power can be considered nothing other than John Stuart Mill’s “tyranny of the majority” and is an affront to the entire American political tradition.

If an unscrupulous band of college-aged bureaucrats has the authority on a college campus to determine which political opinions can and cannot be heard and which groups of students are and are not allowed to organize in defense of their culture, what can be said about that campus’s devotion to intellectual and moral integrity? If these practices of censorship and suppression are present in the very place where, if anywhere, students are supposed to hear both sides of issues and decide where they stand for themselves, what are we to think about the devotion to truth that is said to be fundamental to our education?

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