Campus Conservatives Get a Lesson in Activism: When Professors Start Ranting, Start Filming

February 23, 2017

Are you a student looking to spread your conservative message to the masses? Try capturing the liberal leanings of your professors.

The Conservative Political Action Conference kicked off on Tuesday in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., with a series of workshops for conservatives on how best to be politically active. An especially popular workshop, aimed at college conservatives, offered a suggestion for students seeking to take their activism to social media: When professors start ranting, students should start filming.

"People are so used to their professors’ just constantly ranting and indoctrinating with their liberal values that they don’t realize that’s not OK," Cabot Phillips, a contributor to the conservative website Campus Reform, told audience members.

Mr. Phillips, who served in Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign, started the "Campus Activism Boot Camp" with a session titled "#Liberal Privilege: Using Social Media to Change College Campuses." One of the most effective ways to do that, he said, is to film ranting professors or out-of-control student protests.

To that end, he offered a few tips: Make sure you film horizontally, add subtitles for people who are watching with the sound off, post to Facebook rather than YouTube, and have other conservatives on your campus ready to share the video.

Campus Reform, which was created by the Leadership Institute, a group that trains conservative activists, calls itself a watchdog for higher education. Mr. Phillips told the audience that the site, which relies heavily on content written by campus contributors, would help spread their messages.

"If you have a professor who’s going crazy on video, we’ll get you on TV," Mr. Phillips said.

An ‘Act of Terrorism’

Recording professors on video can have repercussions. Recently, for example, a student at Orange Coast College, a community college in California, was suspended two semesters for filming and posting comments by a professor who called the election of Donald J. Trump an "act of terrorism."

After the incident, signs were posted outside of classrooms at the college stating that recording instructors without their permission was prohibited.

Responding to an audience question about that incident, Mr. Phillips said he was confident that the student would win a lawsuit and gain reinstatement thanks to pro bono legal help. (On Thursday the college announced that the student's suspension had been rescinded, The Orange County Register reported.)

“I would say always err on the side of recording your professor when they're doing things.”
"That school was completely in the wrong for what they did," Mr. Phillips said, adding that increased publicity could lead to more support for students, potentially offsetting any backlash that might arise. "I would say always err on the side of recording your professor when they’re doing things," he said.

Tabatha Palomo, who this fall will start her freshman year at West Virginia University, sat in on the workshop. She said she’s prepared to enter a liberal environment when she goes to college, and thinks it’s important for conservatives to document the campus climate.

“It boils down to a case of 'he said, she said' if you don't have the videos and stuff.”
"It boils down to a case of ‘he said, she said’ if you don’t have the videos and stuff," Ms. Palomo said.

Liberty Fuchs, who attends Santa Monica College, about two hours north of Orange Coast College, described herself as a libertarian. She said she’s felt pressure to conform to her professors’ political leanings in the past.

"One of my professors ended our class" by using a four-letter word to insult President Trump, Ms. Fuchs said.

She had contemplated recording the professor, she said, but she ultimately chose not to. After all, she said, his reading list was balanced. "He was the philosophy teacher, and he recommended, like, Rothbard stuff," she said, referring to Murray N. Rothbard, an economist influenced by Friedrich Hayek. "So I gave him a pass."

Update (2/23/2017, 10:38 p.m.): This article has been updated to note that Orange Coast College announced on Thursday that it had rescinded a student's suspension. A discussion of the suspension occurred at the conference workshop, which was held before the college made its announcement.