Guest Column: Open letter to Young Conservatives of Texas — Do better

Sam Grimsley is a member of the debate team and is a SGA senator for the class of 2022.


Dear Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT),

This past Monday I had the displeasure of attending the speech given by the guest you all so kindly invited to campus to talk about critical race theory (CRT). While I (a Bernie voter) have obvious disagreements with the speaker, there were more glaringly silly aspects to the whole endeavor in my opinion. First you should invite someone of note, second the speech should be targeted and finally, stop being cowards.

The first point: as near as I could tell, invitees’ qualifications amounted to hosting a podcast and having a YouTube channel with 1000s? of views. While I certainly do not think speakers should be disqualified solely based on their notoriety, inviting any random conservative commentator seems like a low bar. As far as I could tell there was nothing that set this speaker apart from any number of other conservative influencers. And more glaringly was his lack of qualifications: as I will explore in the second point the presentation was ineffective. I am sure that one of the conservatives on campus will read this and think about how they have received backlash in the past for their speakers, and my only comment is this: there’s probably a healthy middle ground between random nobody and Milo Yiannopoulos, and you should find it.

The second and main point is that the speaker should give a real presentation. As nearly as I could tell the anti-CRT speech morphed into a nice survey of the various conservative grievances with CRT/identity politics. From the recent supreme court battle to affirmative action and rap, just about everything was touched upon. This did not lead to an effective presentation, but rather a shallow repeat of ideology with a sprinkle of beginner level political theory. If the goal is to promote discourse, invite someone to give a speech over a topic and ensure their speech has more depth than breadth; affirmative action, rap and culture, educational materials, economic racism and the supreme court are all important topics that merit deep engagement. Your choice of presenter did a deep disservice to just about everything he touched. This is both materially worse for external reasons: you convince less people if they are just fed surface level ideology; and internal: I am certain none of the conservatives in attendance learned much besides a simple reaffirmation of their previously held beliefs.

Finally, stop being cowards. While I was not looking for the event, the marketing and attendance was atrocious. As far as I could tell, all YCT and YCT adjacent people attended plus five or six (including me) other people in opposition. This yielded a result where combined with the speaker’s ineffective delivery just reconfirmed prior beliefs. You should try to do more outreach – get people to come especially if they know something. Also interact with other clubs, have a debate or dual speakers. Don’t just take the coward’s option and stick to your bubble; engage with the broader community and win in that marketplace of ideas you love to tout.

Ultimately, I obviously have many disagreements with the content of the speech, but surprisingly I found the form more objectionable. If you want a real impact on campus hold real events with stakes, not just small ones with random culture war influencers. Come out of the ideological foxhole and engage with quality.