GIBSON: New publication may have wrong intentions
If you are familiar with Rutgers University’s politically conservative organizations, you may have heard of their grievances with the University in general for being too liberal and having overtly Left-leaning biases or agendas. They have worked to share their worries with an active (and sometimes offensive) Facebook presence, but their latest Right-wing passion project is to revive The Centurion, a self-proclaimed conservative news outlet on campus. I fully support the idea of clearly labeled partisan writing, and people on all ends of the political spectrum should actively aim to use their freedom of the press to share their ideas. But if some conservatives on campus truly believe and are upset with others allegedly taking sides, creating an explicitly one-sided publication will not help their end goal, especially not one without a clear mission statement beyond creating controversy. The remaking of The Centurion makes me believe that these conservative groups on campus are not concerned with whether the University is actually taking sides, but instead whether everyone else takes their side.
The Centurion was started by James O’Keefe in 2004, while he was still a Rutgers student, according to an article from The Daily Targum from 2006. It is obvious, though, that O’Keefe still does not feel like he made enough of a conservative impact on the Banks as a student, given his visit to campus last fall. The Centurion was regularly printed then and the Rutgers College Republicans (RCR) (now different from the Rutgers Republicans organization, Rutgers Young Americans for Liberty and Rutgers Conservative Union) had more than 400 members, according to the article.
A student and spokesperson for Tent State University (an activism group on campus at the time) said, “When you think about The Centurion, as a student, you think aggression, conflict, antics, disruption, reaction. I don't think that makes them have any credibility with the majority of the students.”
Sound familiar? The Centurion called student protestors “hippies,” had a “Liberal of the Month” faux-award and, as you may already know and laughed at, called to have Lucky Charms (yes, the cereal) banned from Brower Commons for racial stereotyping. And unsettlingly, they had a satirical “Affirmative Action Bake Sale,” selling baked goods at different prices depending on your perceived race. The editor in chief at the time compared The Centurion to South Park. He also said that he was looking for the publication to serve a purpose other than “just pissing people off, because (The Centurion writers) like to make liberals angry.”
Needless to say, The Centurion died a few years later.
Revived again in 2013, The Centurion restarted with a bit of a PR-facelift. Chairman of RCR, told the Targum, “We want to restart The Centurion to add a balance to the campus dialogue that often tilts to the left. We want to show that conservatism is alive and well at Rutgers.” This is by no means a bad idea, and there are still many conservative-leaning students in New Brunswick. The Targum article even sites how they found training and funding from the Leadership Institute and the Collegiate Network, but the article also interviewed students who said that an explicitly political paper is not what they are looking for. They just want something in the middle.
The Centurion Twitter has not been updated since 2010, and I doubt any of the people around now even know what that account’s password is. Its first website domain name (RUCenturion.com) is now available to buy online. And it took the publication months from when it started its new website to post an article.
The Centurion’s production lacks any direction, mission or purpose besides trying to upset students, which will inevitably cause the paper to fail — again. And if in a few years after it restarts, I look forward to reading about it in other University publications.
Brittany Gibson is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in art history and journalism and media studies and minoring in French. Her column, "What's On My Mind," runs every alternate Wednesday.
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