Meet the conservatives on campus

Grant Strobl

Five years ago I founded a chapter of a conservative group called Young Americans for Freedom at Grosse Pointe North High School. Little did I know, it was one of the first chapters to form after the historic unification of Young Americans for Freedom and Young America’s Foundation that occurred five years ago this week.

Since that important date, high schools and colleges across Michigan have benefited immensely from a surge of conservative student activism organized by YAF.

Young Americans for Freedom was founded in 1960 in Sharon, Connecticut at the home of the legendary William F. Buckley Jr. by 100 young conservatives who drafted the Sharon Statement. Young America’s Foundation also began in the 1960s under the leadership of Charles Stowe and other students at Vanderbilt University. Both organizations shared similar DNA, which made it natural for the two YAF’s to merge, creating a powerful force for our nation’s and Michigan’s college and high school campuses, teaching students to stand up in times of adversity.

When I launched the first chapter in Michigan at Grosse Pointe North High School, I was met with much pushback from liberal administrators. The first was a simple desire to post fliers on the poor treatment of conservative women by the media. The principal at the time said no, but that didn’t stop me. With the help of YAF, a number of high profile websites picked up the story. The second occasion was when the principal of Grosse Pointe North and the superintendent of the Grosse Pointe Public School System tried to block Steve Forbes from speaking at the high school. It took over a year of lobbying district administrators and changing district policy to bring Steve Forbes for a successful presentation with the help of YAF.

YAF also expanded to the neighboring Grosse Pointe South High School where its YAF chapter successfully defeated attempts to stop U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum from speaking before a full school assembly. Today, YAF has a strong presence on campuses at the University of Detroit Mercy, Grand Valley State University, Hillsdale College and at the University of Michigan, where I also founded the chapter.

At the University of Michigan, our chapter led the charge to reinstate the screening of “American Sniper” with the help of Coach Harbaugh’s famous tweet. When professor Susan Douglas wrote an article on why we should all hate Republicans, we brought it to the attention of the nation and challenged her in the national spotlight.

We fostered an environment of intellectual diversity by hosting a debate between Bill Ayers and Dinesh D’Souza, and hosted successful events with Ben Shapiro, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, Raheel Raza, Jonah Goldberg and Deroy Murdock, among others. Our efforts have been covered by local, national and international news outlets, including several appearances on Fox News.

Today, YAF programs reach thousands of campuses every year, surging to a level of activism unseen since the 1960s. It is without question that YAF is the only youth conservative organization boldly fighting on the front lines, helping conservative students succeed in hostile, liberal environments in Michigan and around the country.

While the past five years of unification have been successful, our work is far from over. We need to continue the fight because our country is at risk, and the united YAF is ready to stand up and save it.

Grant Strobl, a student at the University of Michigan, is a national board member of Young Americans for Freedom.