Jennifer Kabbany - Fix Editor

LOS ANGELES – Actor Vince Vaughn headlined a Young Americans for Liberty conference at UCLA over the weekend, offering candid thoughts and words of encouragement to an excited audience of 250 or so college students who lead libertarian efforts at campuses across California.

“I think the message of individual liberty and peace is contagious,” Vaughn told the students Saturday, prompting applause and cheers.

Vaughn, a longtime Ron Paul supporter who has been vocal about his libertarian beliefs, made his comments in a Q&A-style appearance, also weighing in on topics such as Hollywood, Rand Paul, Edward Snowden, and libertarian tenets.

“Raise your kids to think for themselves and have respect for both their own individual thoughts and other individuals,” Vaughn, a father of two, said when asked about principles the movement should spread.

Although he did not specifically address political correctness on campuses, he alluded to it while addressing the topic in general.

“There is a challenge because you are up against such a system in place that kind of indoctrinates, if you will, that this is good and that is bad,” he said. “A lot of that to me is really laughable. If you can sit with someone individually and just point out how crazy some of these things are, right?”

“I feel bad for the kids who are going there, their parents are just kind of sending them there,” he added. “But I think a lot of kids also will kind of wake up at some point and say, ‘This feels a little suffocating, some of these ideas feel like it’s really being jammed down my throat,’ which is a good reason to kind of question it, right? Like, why is every week, you know, global warming week?”

The students, in attendance for YAL’s California State Convention, laughed at that and many other quips the actor threw out during his half-hour appearance. Wearing a black leather jacket, graphic T-shirt and jeans, Vaughn seemed pretty relaxed as heonstage sat on stage in a directors chair and fielded questions from a moderator and the audience.

Asked about Snowden, Vaughn was quick to throw high praise at the man who disclosed the massive amounts of information National Security Agency programs track and analyze, including American’s cell phone calls, emails, personal Internet activity and social media posts.

“I think Snowden is great,” Vaughn said, prompting applause and cheers. “He was sharing information with the American people. He was letting us know how far the abuse of liberty has gone.”

“It wasn’t like he was selling it to make money from someone who had bad intentions for the nation,” he added. “It was a wake-up call to all of us to find out just kind of how far they were going. I think he is a hero. I think he is a very brave person who is very principled who took it upon himself to let the American people know. The fact that the government responded pretty strongly to it kind of lets you know maybe they see us more as an adversary than they would present.”

He was also asked about Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who is running for president. Vaughn praised Paul, but stopped short of any official endorsement of his candidacy.

“I have gotten to know Rand through Ron and I have found him to be very consistent on a lot of the issues where liberty is concerned, and liked him very much,” Vaughn said. “There are some things I wasn’t totally understanding of [regarding Rand Paul’s politics, but] … he is the candidate that is currently running that I am most sort of aligned with in sort of his thoughts and philosophies.”

“But to me, Ron was the most consistent in the tradition of liberty,” Vaughn said, prompting another wave of cheers from students.

Hollywood was another subject that came up often, including whether he has talked about his political beliefs with co-stars. Vaughn said he does, and added they can be fruitful conversations at times.

“They start to realize it’s really the principal you are talking about … whether it’s drugs or freedom of speech, you can decide for yourself what your comfort zone is, but the principle of it is, you know, should people be allowed to say what they want, and I think that can be contagious to people as they start to understand it,” Vaughn said. “Once people realize that a lot of government action is forced, that you’re really empowering people to decide what is OK or not OK, that usually leads to some people getting mistreated and some people abusing it and causing more problems than solving.”

And while Vaughn acknowledged he likes to “debate them and sometimes aggravate them as well,” he said the conversations often come back to the same sticking point.

“If you kind of stay in the logic of it, they usually always end up with the same thing, which is: ‘We have to try something,’ or ‘I just don’t believe we can trust individuals that much.’ At which point I always say, ‘Well, who runs the government?’”

Yet Vaughn mentioned he isn’t looking to be the face of the Libertarian Party or lobby people to join its cause.

“My thing isn’t necessarily to try and get out there and try to get people to join the movement,” he said. “I find it important to be consistent with what your truth is and to be direct about that in conversations.”

He said it’s gotten him some praise on the down low in Hollywood: “I have people come up to me, because I have spoken about it, and they are always like, hush hush, like: ‘I am so glad you said something, I can’t say anything, but I am with you.’”

When pressed on whether libertarians should do more in pop culture to argue their cause, Vaughn said he isn’t out to push his beliefs through projects. He acknowledged some movies do.

“I think it’s important to be consistent to the story and characters to whatever they are doing, but yeah I think sometimes movies Vincemeetandgreetcan be – you see it so many times, it’s so heavy handed – that they come at it with sort of a political point of view as if it’s 1,000 percent correct,” Vaughn said. “You know I always think that, depending on the film, unless that’s your point of view, you are really just investigating those characters specifically and what’s going on.”

Asked about the recent Hollywood scandals exposing industry emails and photos, privacy was another big issue Vaughn touted.

“The larger issue was, again, as a society the acceptance of the Patriot Act, the watching to keep us safe from our neighbors, the larger thing that was missed was, where does that end?” he said. “As a society, to a large degree, we have become too complacent with the role of privacy and what should be our expectations of it.”

Vaughn wrapped up his appearance with some encouraging words.

“I think as time goes on, and you guys probably feel this around campus as well, don’t you feel more people are coming along to some of these ideas?” he said. “They see the failure of people overstating stuff.”

He thanked the students for their activism as well.

“It’s a lot of fun to get a chance to come here with you guys today and talk about some of these issues,” he said. “I am glad you guys are so passionate and you are out there and getting the word out, so thank you so much for your time and commitment.”

After his talk, Vaughn shook hands and took photos with more than 100 students who lined up for a chance to meet him.

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix.

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Earlier this week, The College Fix reported on a bill before California lawmakers that aimed to repeal the California State University system’s all-comers policy, which currently forces campus Christian groups to accept non-Christians as their leaders.

Unfortunately – after hearing debate on the issue – the California State Assembly’s committee on higher education ended up rejecting the bill, AB 1212, according to Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, who sponsored the legislation.

“California’s public university system has historically cherished freedom of association by offering official recognition to any group of students who want to create a club around shared beliefs, but not anymore,” Grove said Thursday in announcing the development. “Religious clubs like Chi Alpha at CSU Stanislaus decided it couldn’t in principle change their bylaws to let non-Christians into leadership. As a result the club lost its recognition after being on campus for 40 years. That is a travesty.”

“Our public universities should be preparing students for real life,” she added. “Students shouldn’t expect to be welcomed into leadership positions within groups they disagree with, but that is what this policy is teaching them to expect. Real tolerance allows differing groups to hold diverse points of view. But this CSU policy turns this state’s anti-discrimination protections on their head and uses them to discriminate against the very people they were meant to protect.”

The decision to reject the Student Freedom of Association Act came even after testimony from an attorney with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, who told lawmakers that all-comers policies are being used across the country to “interfere with the ability of student organizations to articulate and voice the message of their choice,” according to Grove.

Nate Honeycutt, a 22-year-old San Diego State student who co-founded CSU SOFA, or Student Organizations for Free Association, had also testified that the act would “protect student groups from having to choose between compromising their beliefs and values to maintain campus-recognition, or standing firm on their principles and thereby being derecognized and kicked off campus.”

All to no avail. However the bill has also been referred to the judiciary committee and was granted reconsideration status.

Hopefully Grove, Honeycutt and others will continue to fight on this. It’s a very important battle, because as it stands the policy has prompted campus Christian clubs’ visibility, membership and positive impact on campuses to plummet.

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix (@JenniferKabbany)

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Student uproar over the decision at UCLA to screen “American Sniper” prompted campus officials to add a post-film discussion to the program as a compromise.

The decision was made after dozens of students plastered the Campus Events Commission’s Facebook page “with concerns that the film promotes Islamophobia and glorifies war,” The Daily Bruin reports, adding:

“CEC didn’t initially plan on having a discussion after the movie, but after receiving backlash for the event, [events commissioner Greg] Kalfayan added a roundtable discussion after the screening for students to express their opinions.”

Communication studies professor Keith Fink moderated the post-film discussion, held Tuesday. The screening attracted an estimated 450 students, according to its events page.

“Despite the added discussion, some students said they feel the movie perpetuates Islamophobia and that showing the movie is offensive to several communities on campus,” the Bruin reports.

One of the comments posted on the Facebook events page was by student Haley Kingbury, who argued: “So many people do NOT want this movie shown. Why not cancel it and respect those individuals who have genuine reasons for their objection? The people who will be upset by the cancellation will move on. Those who are excessively enraged by the cancellation are the reason it needs to be cancelled.”

And as Truth Revolt reported, some comments were more extreme, including those from a UCLA activist and former student, who called “for violent death of US troops, commenting, ‘how about eat the troops? i mean hopefully their flesh gets roasted by some i.e.d. if they’re out occupying,’ and ‘I’d rather a thousand US troops die horribly than one victim of their wars.'”

“American Sniper” continues to prompt controversy at other campus screenings across the country as well.

A protest of the movie is expected tonight during its debut at Northern Illinois University, where a Muslim Student Association leader has declared “I consider veterans and our military to be the real terrorists.”

Earlier the month, a group of students stormed a showing of the blockbuster on the Eastern Michigan University campus, disrupting the movie with signs and questions to the audience.

The University of Michigan actually canceled its screening of the film due to Muslim student protests, but eventually rescheduled it after a national uproar.

“American Sniper” also drew heavy fire at the University of Missouri for offending Muslim members of the community. One of its leaders had stated: “This film is blatant racist, colonialist propaganda that should not be shown under any circumstances and especially not endorsed by a branch of student government that purports to represent me and have my best interests in mind.”

And the Muslim Student Association also had a hand this month in getting the film’s screening at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute postponed.

“American Sniper” – the highest grossing film of 2014 – tells the story of the emotional journey our service men and women who go to war face, and it isn’t pretty, and it leaves them at best scarred and at worst dead.

In particular it follows U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who served four combat tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medals, and one Navy and Marine Corps commendation, according to his official Facebook page.

But the protestors see him differently, and it’s unclear if many of the Muslim students who complain about the movie have even seen it.

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix (@JenniferKabbany)

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Conservative feminist Christina Hoff Sommers gave a speech last night at the uber-liberal Oberlin College, where she was met with posters calling her a rapist supporter, as well as rude, immature heckling from the crowd.

“[M]any in the audience were quite rude and frequently interrupted Sommers,” reports Third Base Politics. “Many students sat in the audience with duct tape over their mouths, inferring that Sommers’ mere presence was an attempt to silence them. Ironically, by labeling her a ‘rapist supporter’ and interrupting her, they were actually striving to silence her.”

But the highlight of the event has got to be video of this announcement by two safe-space facilitators prior to the speech you have got to see to believe. It was taken by Third Base Politics, which notes the students mock with air quotes that some people in the audience attended “to hear both sides of the story.”

These facilitators, who were announcing alternative spaces for those traumatized by Sommers’ visit, also seemed to ridicule the fact that some students in the audience chose to attend the event, with one of them glibly saying “so take care of yourself, live your life, do your thing” as the other student chortles. (Clearly they knew many in the room supported Sommers).

Then at one point one of the safe-space facilitators actually turned their phone on the audience, appearing to possibly take video of the audience (way to make students attending a controversial event feel safe).

At the end of their little announcement, one of the safe-space facilitators joked: “Yeah, we are pretty cool, we only bite people we dislike, so …” as the other chuckled.

That wasn’t a safe space announcement, that was a mini-lecture for students who dare question the college’s leftist heterodoxy, mixed with a little sarcasm and mocking on the side.

Sommers, whose “Factual Feminist” YouTube videos are wildly popular, is a former philosophy professor and prolific author known for her critiques of feminism, including Who Stole Feminism: How Women Have Betrayed Women and The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men.

Here is Third Base Politics’ full report on Sommers’ appearance.

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The University of California-Santa Barbara student government recently voted 13-12 against an Israel divestment resolution in a highly contentious decision preceded by eight hours of debate.

The College Fix reported on some of that rancorous debate, but additional details have emerged via a letter to the editor in The Bottom Line campus news outlet.

Written by Margaux Gundzik, it details the quite shocking level of vitriol and hate that was spewed at Jewish students. She wrote in part:

I am disgusted by the normalization of anti-Semitic language so casually thrown around at the meeting. In those eight hours, I was told that Jews control the government, that all Jews are rich, that Zionism is racism, that the marginalization of Jewish students is justified because it prevents the marginalization of other minority groups, that Israel sterilizes its Ethiopian women (this is obviously not true), and that Palestinians in America who speak out against Israel are sought out by the IDF and denied entrance into Israel (also a ridiculous conspiracy theory). I heard a senator—someone who is supposed to be my representative—say that people were only voting against this resolution because they were afraid of losing “Jew support.” I heard my peers laugh at the mention of terrorists hurling stones at the heads of Israeli civilians intending to kill them. I saw students smile and cheer enthusiastically as a woman stood up and said the words, “I am ashamed to be a Jew.” The rhetoric I heard from students opposing Israel at this meeting could easily be equated to arguments that I have only seen in quotes at museums or mentioned in textbooks for their use in the justification of historical persecution of the Jewish race.

Ironically, it was the people who made these statements who also argued that this resolution was not anti-Semitic and that my personal feelings of it being anti-Semitic were invalid.

If any other minority had voiced these same concerns regarding any other resolution, no administration would dare question the validity of their feelings. The resolution would be dismissed without question. Yet, my community is forced to stand in front of hundreds of people year after year and explain to them why something is racially offensive to us.

Very true.

Read the full letter to the editor.

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The Student Freedom of Association Act to be debated in Sacramento today

California lawmakers today are set to hear testimony on legislation that would repeal the California State University system’s all-comers policy, which currently forces campus Christian groups to accept non-Christians as their leaders.

That 1-year-old policy has wreaked havoc on Christian campus clubs, which have refused to allow non-Christians to lead their groups on principle.

As a result, CSU administrators have “derecognized” these groups. The Christian clubs have been taken off official directories, their campus funding has been cut off, they cannot advertise their events on campus, and more. It has prompted their visibility, membership and positive impact on campuses to plummet.

The Student Freedom of Association Act would rectify that. If approved, it would force all public colleges and universities in the state to protect students’ right to freedom of association by allowing campus groups of all stripes to set parameters on who can be their voting members or leaders.

“AB 1212 will require the governing bodies of UC, CSU, and California Community Colleges to adopt a policy prohibiting their respective campuses from discriminating against a student organization based on that organization’s requirement that its leaders or voting members adhere to the organization’s viewpoints or sincerely held beliefs,” states Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, who sponsored the bill.

“Essentially this legislation will protect the rights of college students to form clubs around shared beliefs,” she added.

The California State Assembly’s committee on higher education is scheduled to debate the bill today.

Nate Honeycutt, a 22-year-old San Diego State University grad student set to testify before California lawmakers in support of the bill, said the measure is desperately needed.

“Christian organizations have been the ones essentially targeted,” he said of the 1-year-old policy, called “CSU Executive Order 1068.” That’s a shame, he added.

“These groups had such a great impact on campus life. They were great resources for students, helped them make a lot of friends, and they did a lot of outreach to freshmen, helping them adapt to life in college,” Honeycutt told The College Fix. “Now they are just gone. They NateHoneycuttstill exist, but they can’t have an active presence on campus.”

Other political, religious groups face ‘hostile takeover’

But beyond that, the Student Freedom of Association Act would help students of all stripes and beliefs, including Muslim, pro-choice and Democratic students, he said.

Currently, CSU campus groups must allow all students, regardless of beliefs, to join or even lead their clubs, he said. That means College Republicans can flood College Democrat groups, pro-choice students can infiltrate pro-life campus organizations, and even Christians could join or lead Muslim groups, he said.

As it stands, the CSU policy essentially discriminates against those who hold fervent ideologies and beliefs, he said.

Honeycutt, (pictured) former president of the Cal Poly College Republicans, said it’s not unprecedented for student adversaries to try and infiltrate other students’ clubs; that actually took place between Republicans and Democrats years ago at Cal Poly.

“Your group could be subject to a hostile takeover,” Honeycutt said of campus clubs, adding that when presented with that problem, CSU administrators have dismissed it.

“They say, ‘We haven’t really seen it yet, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there,’” Honeycutt said. “They are not interested in doing anything about it.”

But Honeycutt is. He co-founded CSU SOFA, or Student Organizations for Free Association. The SOFAgroup aims to help return the rights to students of all causes, from the Sierra Student Coalition to the Muslim Student Association.

CSU’s open-membership policy, enforced under the guise of promoting diversity and tolerance, is “prohibiting belief-based student organizations from protecting the mission, value and beliefs of their group,” he said.

‘This isn’t something we can let slide by’

Not just Christians have been effected by this new mandate, which was signed into policy by the CSU chancellor in December 2011 and implemented last summer.

Honeycutt said despite arguments and efforts by the Cal Poly College Republicans to keep a proviso in its bylaws that requires leaders and voting members to be Republican, they were forced last year by campus officials to either scrap it or be derecognized from campus.

He said although his Student Organizations for Free Association group is still small, he was spurred to create it because this is an important issue for all students.

“If I don’t do something about this, who is going to,” he said. “This isn’t something we can let slide by.”

In fact, at a recent meeting of the California State Student Association, several student government representatives agreed that the policy presents serious problems, The Lumberjack student newspaper reports.

“I wouldn’t want someone to limit what we can discuss and who we can elect,” said California State University Los Angeles vice president of external affairs Sasha Perez.

But the left-leaning student association decided not to support the legislation in what Honeycutt called a “baffling” decision, adding “from what I understand, a number of representatives agreed that the policy posed serious problems.”

California is also not alone in addressing this issue. Some Republican lawmakers in other states, such as Missouri and Kansas, have proposed bills to protect religious student groups’ association rights.

Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix.

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