Campus Program Associate, Vanessa Rivera, caught up with chapter leader, Abbey Bongiorno, president of NeW at the Eastern Michigan University!
How did you first hear about NeW?
I first heard about NeW from the She’s Conservative campaign, specifically the picture of Carly Fiorina. I was just browsing Facebook when I saw Carly Fiorina in a She’s Conservative shirt and I decided I needed to get myself one of those shirts. I ended up buying the shirt, then looking more into what NeW was. Just a few weeks after making the purchase, I decided to make a chapter on my campus for the conservative women with NeW!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you became involved in NeW?
College usually makes people more liberal. Not me. I was irritated with the indoctrination of students by professors, extremely aware of the blatant partisanship of the student government and university as a whole, and completely flabbergasted at the lumping of all women into one group of “feminists.” I despised the term “feminist;” I was not a man-hating, victim-claiming, left-leaning woman who relied upon the guilt of others to succeed. I was a strong, right-leaning, human rights fighting woman who wanted to rely upon her own merit for success. I was a part of my college’s College Republicans, but the group was predominantly male. It was difficult to find like-minded women, and I began thinking that conservative women were a rare breed. Once I discovered NeW, however, it became obvious to me that conservative women weren’t a rare breed, they just were hiding under all the liberalism of the university. I started NeW at Eastern Michigan to give quieter conservative women (and those not-so-quiet women like myself) a place to meet with like-minded women who would encourage, educate, and assist them.
What appeals to you about NeW?
What I love the most about NeW is that it offers a place for conservative women to feel free to discuss what they believe without fear of repercussion. We’re able to talk about the policies we like and dislike, the women that inspire us, and what we aspire to be after college. We don’t always agree, and it’s totally fine; we’re able to discuss and debate rather than use only emotion to argue that our opinion is right. We help develop the tools needed to really debate what we believe in without appealing only to emotion or name-calling, which is something that everyone should desire to learn. It’s also a great network nationally of women who are like-minded, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.
What made you want to start a NeW chapter?
I saw the need for it in my freshman roommate. She’s conservative, but going to a College Republican meeting made her nervous. She didn’t want to be openly associated with such a strong title, since both the school we are at is blatantly opposed to any non-liberal thought and her future profession is clearly left-leaning. I wanted to offer women a place to meet up with people who believe similar things as them without the in-your-face title of a particular party. Saying you’re going to Network of enlightened Women or a book club is much easier than the alternative. I wanted women to come to the confidence in their belief on their own terms, rather than forcing them to be obnoxiously loud or completely silent, and NeW offered that exact process.
Why is having a NeW chapter on campus so important to you?
Having NeW at my school is such an important part of my college career. Being able to discuss politics with women who understand, at least in part, where I’m coming from is what I want every women a part of NeW to feel. Without NeW, many women would not be able to truly find their beliefs and where they stand on political topics, because only being told one side of the story in classes can really take its toll.
How do you benefit from being a part of NeW? What is the best part of being involved with NeW?
Being a part of NeW has not only exposed me to amazing people, but also to amazing experiences. I am in a network of women from all over the country who are in the same position I am: a conservative woman trying to find her place. Thanks to NeW, I am confident in what I believe and sharing my beliefs, and I have met so many role models for my life. From the amazing professionalism and unbelievable concern from NeW national, I honestly believe that the conservative women on my campus have a voice and a helping hand to rely on in times of trouble.
What makes you the most excited about being a part of NeW?
I am most excited about being in NeW for the simple fact that NeW offers women a place to not be afraid to express their conservatism. Being on a liberal campus can quickly shut down any thoughts of conservatism in the classroom, so having NeW really offers these women a chance to dive further into what they believe.