Fresh U caught up with eight college conservatives about their thoughts regarding Trump's actions this month:
Devin Sena, Daytona State College, Political Science
"I believe in only two things completely: the first amendment and bo—just kidding—free markets. As a staunch supporter of the first amendment I relentlessly support the right of NFL players to kneel yet also support my individual right to call them out for being disrespectful and pusillanimous dolts. A Rasmussen poll conducted shortly after the Colin Kaepernick protests showed [that] 34% of adults said they are less likely to watch an NFL game after his anti-American protests. The NFL took a play straight from the Democrat playbook—failing to reflect on the “Kaepernick effect”—and once again alienating their primary customer base. Players are fined $10k for dancing in the end-zone, having a blue line on their helmet in support of police officers brutally murdered by BLM* in Dallas and for wearing socks in remembrance of the 2,977 who left us on 9/11. Will the NFL permit the disparagement of America and disrespect for service members who die for us daily, or will they penalize players who kneel during the anthem? The ball—and the wallets—are in your court."
*Note: The shooting occurred at the end of an otherwise peaceful BLM protest. The shooter was a member of the "New Black Panther Party," which advocates violence against whites and the Jewish community but has no apparent ties to the official Black Lives Matter organization.
Bailey La Sage, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Political Science & Spanish
“Betsy DeVos’s speech regarding Title IX and sexual assault on campus was, to simply put it, spot on: ‘Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined. These are non-negotiable principles.’ We live in a time where sexual assault on campus is a spotlight issue. Coming from a campus currently waiting for a high profile case to go to trial, this issue also hits close to home. But in times such as these, we mustn’t allow emotions to dictate the outcome of cases. Instead, we must rely on the due process guaranteed to all citizens of this nation. DeVos makes a strong point that our campuses have practices that do not always guarantee this, as many want to keep in good standing for prospective students, alumni and the rest of the public. It is heartbreaking to me that schools and the system have allowed for the breakdown in the reporting, addressing and responding to cases of sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct on our campuses. It creates difficult environments for the victims and for those accused, both rightfully and wrongfully. All students on campuses should be secure in knowing that if they were in this situation, the school would act in a just and fair manner to both protect them and protect their rights. The plan and future for the Title IX program that DeVos laid out have left me feeling optimistic for the future of addressing sexual assault on campus.”
Caleb Wooton, University of Lousiana at Lafayette, Economics
“I thought President Trump's speech to the UN was a speech that should have been given years ago. The comments the President directed towards North Korea were long overdue and it feels refreshing to see the President of the United States willing to stand up and say we are not going to be pushed around. It is obvious that the President's comments about North Korea have gotten under leader Kim Jong Un's skin based upon his response to the President's speech. Kim Jong Un employed some colorful language when insulting the President, calling him a "dotard," which is the same thing as calling someone an old senile man. The North Koreans know that unlike his predecessor, President Trump will act on his threats and leaves every option on the table to deal with our enemies. The North Koreans saw President Obama did not act when Syria crossed the red line by using chemical weapons. They noticed President Trump acted when Syria used chemical weapons. I think the North Koreans also took note of Trump's willingness to leave all options open militarily when the US dropped the MOAB in Afghanistan. President Trump's speech to the UN signifies a long overdue change in American foreign policy with regards to North Korea and I welcome that change.”
Nicholas Lindquist, Le Moyne College, Marketing
“Trump's comments on the NFL give me sort of mixed feelings. On one hand, I do to an extent agree that what these players are doing is disrespectful to the country. But, on the other hand, it is their 1st Amendment right to do what they are doing regardless of what I think about it. As a constitutionalist I think that Trump's tweets are not good for the country and they are promoting the idea that the government can tell people what they can and can't say or do. So I think the players are disrespectful, but the constitution protects their actions and as a constitutionalist I can't do anything about it and neither can Trump.”
Ryan DeMara, Villanova University, Political Science
"I support the principle behind DACA. It would not be right to punish these young people for the actions of their parents. However, President Obama's executive order was a clear example of executive overreach. It is time for Congress to pass long overdue, meaningful immigration reform."*
*Note: Since this interview, Congressional Republicans have released the SUCCEED Act as immigration reform specifically regarding DREAMERs.
Connor Mendes, Temple University, Political Science
“Hurricane Harvey and Irma have devastated this nation, countless families are homeless and lost everything. It is these natural disasters that really bring us all together as a nation. [This] is the time [to] retaliate [against] hate like when University of Tampa assistant professor Kennet Storey stated Texas deserved Harvey because the state went red and assisted in Trump becoming president, and [it is the] time [to] rally around heroes like 3-time NFL Defensive MVP JJ Watt who raised over 30 million for [those affected]. President Trump responded rapidly and commendably to these disasters. He appointed a great FEMA Director to spearhead the recovery efforts, showing he knows just the right people to hire. The "Responder in Chief" made a classy and personal touch by visiting a Houston shelter to talk to survivors and hand[ing] out food in Florida. The real feel good moment was when Trump was talking to Texans at a Corpus Christi fire station, [and] he waved the flag of Texas, [which] really help[ed] the morale of the crowd. President Trump did not hesitate to dip into the mass resources of this nation as he signed off on the largest relief fleet operation in our history to aid the people of the US Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, Florida and other islands not affiliated with the US. This task force consists of 9 ships, including the aircraft carrier the SS Abraham Lincoln, in addition to thousands of marines and sailors to aid in recovery. While we are on a long road to recovery I am confident we will bounce back stronger than ever because we are Americans and we have a strong commander in chief leading the way*.”
*Note: This interview was conducted before Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last week.
Valente Montes, College of the Canyons, Political Science
“President Trump’s bold and unapologetic address to the United Nations was the most robust speech that he’s given since taking office. The main emphasis of President Trump’s speech was sovereignty, security and prosperity, but he went on to cover a variety of other topics of importance. In typical Trump fashion, he spoke bluntly on a number of issues concerning the United Nations, but focused on North Korea’s reckless pursuit of a nuclear weapon and the danger that this could present to the international community. President Trump warned that North Korea’s dictator was on a “suicide mission” when it came to their nuclear program. He made it clear that “if forced to defend ourselves or our allies, the United States would have no other choice but to destroy North Korea.” Although past diplomatic means such as sanctions have done almost nothing to deter the North Koreans from pursuing a nuclear weapon, he did leave the door open to diplomatic negotiations with the North Koreans. I respected the fact that he brought to light the issue of terrorism and extremism around the world, particularly how certain regimes present during his speech, such as Iran, had a history of supporting terrorist organizations. When it came to human rights, President Trump blasted the UN [on the] “massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations,” [the fact] that certain nations with terrible human rights records, likely referring to Saudi Arabia, were allowed to even sit on the Human Rights Council. President Trump spoke directly to the American people when he reiterated that, as long as he was President, he would always put the interests of the American people above all else. This speech was an excellent way for this still fairly new president to show the international community that the United States will no longer make decisions based on ideologies, but rather on outcomes, and that it was abandoning the previous administration's strategy of leading from behind.”
Liam Verses, University of Texas at Austin, Plan II Honors & Environmental Engineering
“Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos signaled a significant shift for the Department of Education’s Title IX guidelines recently. The Obama Administration’s “Dear Colleague Letter,” which circumvented the Administrative Procedure Act, created a push on schools to take matters into their own hands when dealing with sexual assault, and the results were predictably disastrous. Not only is the burden of proof for a “guilty” conviction less for intra-college investigations (only 50 percent) than in the judicial system, but also the way in which the arbitration is conducted—with the accused’s limited ability to cross-examine accusers, limited access to evidence, and lack of counsel—is particularly egregious. In a FIRE study, 45 of 53 colleges received a D or F for their commitment to due process and 73 percent of colleges failed to guarantee innocence until proven guilty: colleges are running their tribunals contrary to the Constitution. Faced with losing federal funding or eroding civil liberties, colleges have largely gone with the latter. We cannot allow higher education to be stuck in the middle of conflicting directives. At the end of the day, Americans want those who commit sexual assault to face the stiff hand of justice; we want to stop sexual assaults on campus. But establishing quasi-legal proceedings in colleges with no effort to preserve individual rights is unjust. It’s time for reform, and Sec. DeVos will hopefully restore American ideals, especially order, to campuses across the nation, safeguarding both victims and the falsely accused from despair.”
As Hurricane Maria efforts continue and tax reform is on the table in Congress, there is no doubt that headlines will continue to focus on Trump and his administration in the coming months. Between domestic and foreign policy, there will be no shortage of news, and Fresh U will be here to cover it.
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