“The dinner was especially memorable for me because of the opportunity it provided to reflect on the phenomenon of which my darling rag is a part: the continuing story of conservative journalism on campus. It is an inspiring story of shoestring budgets, sleepless nights, and perseverance in the face of what is still often fierce student, and occasionally administration, animosity. It is a story that demonstrates one of the founding premises of modern American conservatism. As the famous title of one of Richard Weaver’s books puts it, “Ideas have consequences.”
I recently viewed at 1988 Frontline documentary called “Racism 101” about the BAM III movement at the University of Michigan, and also included some about the Dartmouth Review. I thought this might be a good time to give some historical context to the whole “Review” movement. In the early 1980s, dozens of conservative publications sprung up across the country to counter what they perceived to be the liberal dogma within both the established student newspapers and also academe more generally. Although the founders may wrap their “grassroots” movement with nostalgia (see source to the above quote), each paper was from the beginning financed to the tune of thousands of dollars a year by various corporations, foundations, and individuals. Today, that aid comes from something called the Collegiate Network, which funnels money to dozens of conservative publications around the country including our beloved Michigan Review. Meanwhile, the people at the Michigan Daily and Moment have to seek advertising revenue and donations to print their newspapers.
In a sense, the Reviews are a well-funded national program to systematically attack diversity, toleration, and the liberal arts tradition more generally on college campuses. Whether it’s self-righteously arguing for the ability of standardized testing to measure intelligence, or attacking Black studies programs and women’s studies programs, they can always be counted on to provide an intolerant, reactionary, and often flat-out ignorant viewpoints that were “missing” before. As an example, Dartmouth Review staffers were suspended for harassing a professor after three of them aggressively confronted a professor after his class, with tape recorders and cameras rolling, after he had told them he didn’t want to talk to them.
The Review is also the recipient of somewhat unusually assigned office space – it’s unclear to me how their office in the Michigan League came about, and they only recently were required to re-apply for it: one of the products, ironically, of the “space panel” convened by Bollinger after the Students of Color Coalition forced the University to evict Michigamua, Phoenix, and Vulcan from the Michigan Union Tower.
Meanwhile, why do we have the day off classes on Martin Luther King Day? The MLK Symposium was created as the direct result of the Black Action Movement III, when a multiracial coalition led a one-day boycott of classes on Martin Luther King day, and asked the Regents to create special educational events and give students the day off classes. They won: the MLK Symposium was born, and the University made a strong written commitment to future diversity, although it would go unfufilled in the eyes of many in the following decade. This from the Director of OAMI John Matlock:
“When I came back to the University of Michigan – some 12 years after finishing my doctorate program, the campus was in its second or third year of officially celebrating Dr. King’s contributions. Like the national holiday, the University’s recognition didn’t come easily. Students and others on the campus had been observing the holiday with the “Commemoration of a Dream” march some years before the University agreed to recognize the holiday. The spirit of Dr. King was alive at U-M through its students – the same students who had never had the opportunity to meet Dr. King but who were the beneficiaries of his legacy.”