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Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

‘How Brown Made Me Conservative’



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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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