Conservatives raise voice on campus
Utter the words "The Centurion" - a self-proclaimed conservative student publication - to many Rutgers students, and you might get a sigh or a roll of the eyes in response. Yet, ironically, many of those same people cannot wait to pick up the latest issue.
"I believe the majority of people who read The Centurion are people who disagree with them," said Tom Degloma, a spokesperson for Tent State University. "And they read The Centurion to become infuriated."
The Centurion - founded in 2004 by James O' Keefe, a Rutgers College student who has since graduated - provides a focused voice for what Joseph McCarthy, the outgoing president of the Rutgers College Republicans, feels is a rising conservative movement at Rutgers.
"The Centurion is a result of [the change], more so than the other way around," McCarthy said.
The Centurion and RC Republicans are two separate organizations but both reveal a trend of a rising conservative voice at the University.
Four years ago, the College Republicans had eight members at Rutgers, McCarthy said. "Today, I can safely say the College Republicans have more than 400 members," he said.
The Centurion has received a lot of criticism over its outspoken opinions and confrontation tactics. The April issue, for example, included an essay criticizing an organized "die-in" on the steps of Brower Commons - with the writer referring to the protestors as "five sleeping hippies."
"When you think about The Centurion, as a student, you think aggression, conflict, antics, disruption, reaction," Degloma said. "I don't think that makes them have any credibility with the majority of the students."
Daniel Whitney, current editor in chief of The Centurion, defended its satirical techniques, which have included holding an 'Affirmative Action Bake Sale' - selling baked goods at different prices according to race - at a counter-protest against Tent State, proclaiming a "Liberal Of The Month" to the person they most feel showed liberal bias on campus and sarcastically calling for the ban of Lucky Charms at Brower Commons because of racial stereotyping. Whitney said the satire is often misunderstood and compared what The Centurion does to South Park
"South Park will say ridiculous things that do have a point behind them," Whitney said. "There is nothing wrong with being confrontational or controversial when it serves a purpose."
However, according to Whitney, The Centurion has made a conscious effort to scale back its aggressiveness from that of its founder.
"What I tried to do this semester is make sure that it does serve a purpose and is not just pissing people off, because we like to make liberals angry," Whitney said.
According to Daniel Francisco, executive editor of The Centurion, its mission is not simply to say "everyone else is wrong."
"It's to show people that, hey, there still is another side to the coin," Francisco said. "You can go listen to [the majority liberal opinions at Rutgers], but just remember that this is here too, and this may be right as well."
Whitney defined the focus of the publication as giving "conservatives a place to voice their opinions and to allow others on campus to pick up this publication and see how conservative students think."