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Stuck in a College Basement for Our Cause

National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson speaks with students in the basement of the University of Chicago.
Engaging college students on campuses (and in basements) across the country thanks to National Review Institute

National Review Institute is asking for your help with an ongoing project of ours, NRI On Campus, that we think is one of the most important things we do — making the case for capitalism, family, and faith in the theaters most hostile to conservative values: America’s college campuses.

Thanks to the support of NRI, the nonprofit journalistic think tank that supports the NR mission, our fellows and writers have visited 23 college campuses in the past year, engaging nearly 2,300 students. I am pretty sure that I myself have saved at least a half a dozen young Americans from the terrible mistake of majoring in journalism.

(I don’t think that’s what the journalism students at Ohio University were expecting.)

We’ll go anywhere to share National Review’s vision and values with young people. On a recent talk at the University of Chicago, an “unexpected scheduling conflict” — the kind of unexpected thing I have come to expect — had us meeting in some sub-basement somewhere on campus, but the students found us, anyway, and it was standing-room only, literally.

(Unlike Joe Biden, I know what “literally” means.)

Even on Milton Friedman’s old stomping grounds, there are not very many conservative students, though I hadn’t expected them to be underground, literally.

(Literally, Mr. Biden. Literally.)

I spend a fair amount of time signing books. Do you know what the most common thing people ask me to write in book dedications is? It’s this: “Dear Chase or Caitlyn or Braden” — or whatever it is they were naming kids 18 years ago — “your parents bought you this book for you to take with you when you go off to college, and they want you to remember: Don’t believe everything your professors tell you!” I know why they do this: If I’d only had my history teachers to guide me, I’d have gone through life thinking that the whole of American history was the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats. I had an economics professor who spent a full hour lecturing us on how Ronald Reagan was ruining the country . . . in 1995. Tenure: It is a mixed blessing.

Not to go all Colonel Jessep on you, but: If you want me in that basement — if you need me in that basement — then NRI needs your help, as we always do. Somebody’s values are going to prevail on campus, and ours will not have a chance if we are not on their cases and in their faces.

NRI is in the midst of its End-of-Year Fund Appeal and seeks to raise over $200,000 by December 31st to support this important work. I hope you will consider giving a generous tax-deductible gift to the institute before the end of the year, helping relegate me and other NRI fellows to more basements at colleges and universities around the country in 2020.

It’s a pleasure and an honor to get to carry on the work and tradition of National Review. I am grateful for your support.

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