As the chair of the College Republicans and one of Georgetown's most prominent conservative activists, Amber Athey has experienced more than her fair share of run-ins with the campus left. She discussed them this summer in a widely commented on post on the College Republican's blog The Right Way, detailing how she suffered sexual harassment and verbal attacks at the hands of liberal Hoyas, all for daring to have a differing opinion.
Amber was recently featured in The Voice's excellent article on Georgetown's political climate, which should be required reading for anyone who cares about free speech and diversity of ideas on the Hilltop. In our interview below we talk to Amber about being a conservative and making the most out of one's Georgetown experience.
TGA: You wrote a great piece this past July about issues related to being accepted as a conservative at Georgetown and the harassment you’ve endured. What have been the most difficult problems you’ve faced from coming out as a conservative on the Hilltop?
AA:The most difficult part of being a conservative on campus is planning College Republican events with the knowledge they could be protested, boycotted, or reported to the administration. I do not take personal attacks seriously, and as such, they do not bother me. It does bother me when I have difficulties doing my job as Chair of GUCR because of the seeming inability of liberals to listen to views that don’t align with their own.
TGA: What advice would you give a conservative student wishing to make an impact at Georgetown? How should she or he get started? What should he or she read? Which organizations should they join? What sort of issues should they work on?
AA: If a conservative is to be successful at Georgetown, they must be outspoken, unafraid of backlash, and well-versed on policy. Recommended reading would include the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, The Road to Serfdom, On Liberty, and Democracy in America. These texts should be considered a foundation. More important than just reading these is being able to apply them to current political events and debates. A conservative on campus may be successful without any organization if they are loud about their views, however, I would recommend joining College Republicans, Young Americans for Liberty, and/or the Alexander Hamilton Society. There are also many student campaign groups for the various presidential candidates.
TGA: Universities have for a long time now been controlled by liberals who make it a point to not hire right-leaning faculty and who often seem to care more about diversity of identity as opposed to diversity of ideas. Have you found your professors to biased one way or the other? Have they been supportive of you even though you consider yourself part of the right?
AA: As a Government and Economics major, I would have expected to encounter a lot of liberal bias in my courses. However, most of my professors make a great attempt to remain neutral, and have been incredibly helpful and resourceful despite my identifying as a Republican. I know friends who have had incredibly liberal professors, but this seems to be relatively rare compared to other campuses.
TGA: Are there any faculty you would recommend as being friendly to conservative thought or who could serve as mentors to students who are not on the left?
AA: Scott Fleming, the Director of Federal Relations at Georgetown, works with both the College Democrats and the College Republicans to bring big-name speakers to campus and organize successful events. He would be a great resource for any politically-involved student looking for general advice or job opportunities.
TGA: Does SAC fund at equal levels both the College Republicans and College Democrats? If not, what is the reason?
AA: SAC funds the College Democrats at higher levels than the College Republicans, mainly because GUCD is a larger organization. All SAC budgets are publicly available.
TGA: As a senior who will soon graduate, what advice do you have for those remaining for how to make the most out of their Georgetown experience?
AA: My Georgetown experience has been made great by the personal relationships I have made as well as the opportunities I have taken advantage of in the DC area. I would encourage current Hoyas to find an organization with students who enjoy the same things as you, as you will probably make your best friends there and break out of the Georgetown bubble and explore all that DC has to offer