Rutgers University

Column: At Rutgers, Will the Right Stand Up for What is Right?

The Rutgers Conservative Union tables outside Brower Commons on College Avenue. Credits: Dylan Marek

Editor's note: This is a column by Amy Barenboim, a Rutgers University student who covers and provides commentary on local issues.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The United States has always championed the right to free speech and, subsequently, the freedom for opinions to be measured and scrutinized against one another. This multiplicity of viewpoints prevents the tyranny of one ideology over another, and hopefully leads to a productive meeting of those ideas. Keeping with that tradition leads to an essential question regarding the existence of the Rutgers Conservative Union: What exactly are the club’s principles and values?

This question is important not only for the current existential state of the club, but for how it will potentially benefit or harm Rutgers as an intellectual and moral institution.

Sign Up for E-News

As students of Rutgers, Conservative Union members must contribute to the current dialogue at the university—and across the nation. What is the state of racism in a nation that has—until recently—seen itself as post-race? What is the state of immigration when many have forgotten their own immigrant routes? How can we move toward a more just and equal society when people are against it, seemingly for little reason?

There are many questions here, most of them, if not all, rhetorical. That is the point.

Members of the Conservative Union and Rutgers officials have championed the club for its ability to provide a different viewpoint from a predominantly liberal student body. But the Rutgers Conservative Union does not seem to have a different viewpoint, nor any viewpoint at all.

Creating fliers defaming famous liberal figures as a “tactic” does not say anything about the club’s actual values. What is it about Che Guevara that offends the club? Why is the club going to potentially associate Adolph Hitler with liberals?

These questions are not asked to belittle anyone, but because the Rutgers community is genuinely curious and concerned.

Which leads to the fliers the club posted in February, which sparked a major controversy on campus.

The Rutgers Conservative Union has admitted that the fliers were based off one from the white supremacy group American Vanguard, but merely by coincidence. And the Union has continually denied any association, ideological or otherwise, with American Vanguard. 

It seems the most likely connection was somewhere in between, or a combination of the two. Perhaps the lack of a central mission and principles led the club toward a lack of originality. In other words, the club may have copied the design and phrase “Take Your Country Back!” because the club did not have its own message to impassionately send out to the Rutgers community. However, this does not let the Rutgers Conservative Union off the hook.

Members of the club still rallied around problematic views. As one member said, in a story reported by TAPinto New Brunswick’s Jack Murtha, “multiculturalism is going to collapse one way or another, so that people are allowed to retain their identity and ostensibly stand up for the west.” A crack has been opened enough for groups like American Vanguard to slither in and contact the group on Facebook under pseudonyms like Mike Enoch.

Whether or not the members do, in fact, hold views aligned with white supremacy, they have nonetheless decided to associate with a white supremacy group, with seemingly little to no remorse. And that is the most frightening part of the Rutgers Conservative Union. If these students truly are conservatives that think “racism is never okay” then they would not associate with the message of American Vanguard, nor its people. They would find it abhorrent, not just in name, but in their actions.

One speaker said at the June 15 Middlesex County Freeholders meeting, in regard to undocumented immigrants, “It is not us versus them. We are entangled.”

It is the responsibility of the Conservative Union, as the new and open-minded institution it claims to be, to resist bigotry and not give in to the hatred spewed by groups such as American Vanguard.

Amy Barenboim, a New Jersey native, is an English major at Rutgers University. She is also interested in theater and philosophy. On most days you can find her reading a book under a tree. She writes a regular column for TAPinto New Brunswick.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - March 19, 2018


TRENTON - New Jersey, one of the only employers who pays its workers for unused sick time, and then appears mystified when it struggles to balance its budget, may finally be capping sick-leave payouts.  The proposal, obviously unpopular with labor unions, has been discussed before, but not with traction. It is back in the mix again, to cap payouts ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 16, 2018


ON THE RAILS - Another commuting mess this morning, as the antiquated Portal Bridge got stuck in the "up" position at 4:22 a.m.  That caused a bunch of rush hour trains to be cancelled between Newark and Manhattan for four hours or so.  Both NJTransit and Amtrak riders were completely screwed. You may recall the proposed Gateway ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 15, 2018


NEW BRUNSWICK - When you rent out apartments to Rutgers students, expect some surprises. But one landlord received a shocker beyond expectation: a $8,117.07 water bill for the last three months of 2017, TAPInto New Brunswick reports. The landlord went to the City Council meeting this week, pleading that the bill on his Comstock Street ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 14, 2018


TRENTON - Ever since we met Gov. Phil Murphy, he has been talking about the same stuff: higher taxes for the rich, saving NJ Transit, legalizing marijuana, giving more money to public schools and a higher minimum wage. So, when lawmakers went to Trenton yesterday to hear the rookie governor's first budget message, there weren't a lot of ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 13, 2018


TRENTON - As Gov. Phil Murphy prepares to deliver his first budget address at 2 p.m. today, at the State House, observers will be curious if his proposals jive with the state's pension mess. Look for the governor to talk about campaign topics like equal pay, health care, climate change, immigration and offshore drilling, as well as the proposed ...

The Jaffe Briefing - March 12, 2018


NEW BRUNSWICK - If you want to succeed in New Jersey, you need to figure out, to some degree, what all these millennials are thinking.  New Jersey Future tried to get to the answer, during a recent day-long event in New Brunswick that NJ Spotlight covered.  Bottom line? Our millennials are fleeing and that is bad. We need them to buy ...

Rutgers Student on Front Lines of Orangutan Conservation, Research

March 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - Deep in a tropical forest in Borneo 15 years ago, Rutgers student Didik Prasetyo first encountered a young male orangutan that he named “Jerry.”

The great ape was one of several orangutans that Prasetyo and other researchers followed at the Tuanan Orangutan Research Station in the Mawas Conservation Area in Indonesia. Prasetyo was skeptical when colleagues said ...

RU police investigate assault on Douglass campus

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University police are investigating an aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault  reported to March 14 at 3:55 a.m. in front of Hickman Hall on the Douglass campus.


The victim, not affiliated with Rutgers University, reported that she was walking with a male whom she did not know in the area of Commercial Avenue and George ...

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

Latino, Caribbean, Hip Hop, Jazz music, even Yoga and skating, celebrated in city

March 15, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK – Music, cultures and lifestyles will be celebrated in the city all year, with festivals and special events scheduled for weekends from April through October, including the city’s first day to highlight yoga.

City council members this week approved permits for nine events, starting with the traditional Rutgers Day Parade on April 28, which will start on Senior Place ...


This National Literacy Month, Let's Rein In Screen Time

March 13, 2018

Dear Editor: As speech-language pathologists across New Jersey prepare to mark “National March into Literacy Month,” let’s address the alarming number of young children who spend countless hours a day on a handheld screen.

According to a study from the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, the more time that children under two years spend on smartphones, tablets and ...

New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters Clinches Gold Certification

March 16, 2018

NEWARK - The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) is proud to announce that the New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters has once again received Gold Certification – awarded to the strongest chapters in the nation.

NJAHU achieved Gold Certification from national headquarters underscoring how well the organization has operated and achieved its lofty goals in the ...