Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

‘How Brown Made Me Conservative’


David Klinghoffer, an NRO contributor and occasional Derbyshire antagonist, writes about how attending Brown University turned him from a secular liberal into an Orthodox Jewish conservative. It happened in the mid-1980s, but many of his experiences will sound familiar to Phi Beta Cons readers:

I became the lone and reviled conservative columnist for the Brown Daily Herald. In my inaugural column, I wrote about an experience I’d had at the Third World Center. One afternoon, Tamara and I had wandered in and discovered that President Howard Swearer was in the building, about to have a meeting with students. We ambled down the hall to the entrance of the room where the meeting would take place, only to be stopped by a young woman. She looked us up and down. “Sorry, you can’t come in,” she said, adding that because Tamara and I were not “Third World” students, we were not welcome. We were barred from entering a university facility because we were white. . . .

After the article appeared in the Herald, I returned to my room in Andrews Hall to find obscene graffiti on my door: F**K YOUR RACIST A**. Students poured forth enraged letters to the editor, almost every one condemning me. Because I was a resident counselor for a group of freshmen living in the basement of Andrews, the dean in charge of first-year students called me into her office to chastise me. As I understood it, I stood accused of racism for protesting racism. Subsequently, the dean appointed a student committee to oversee my counseling. The last name of the undergraduate who headed the committee was Kafka, proof that God, or possibly the dean of first-year students, had a wicked sense of humor.

(The article is from Brown’s alumni magazine; it appeared last year, which I didn’t notice until I had finished writing this.)


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