Campus Program Associate Vanessa Rivera caught up with girls from NeW at WMU: Elise Kolar (Secretary), Margaret Reid (President), Nicole DeFord (Co-Vice President), Meg Gust (Treasurer), Paige Llewellyn (Recruitment Chair). Not pictured is Amber Preston (Co-Vice President) and Jenna Miller. Check out their responses below!
Q. What does it mean to you to be a conservative?
Margaret: I am a conservative because I believe in preserving the traditions and values our country is founded on. I believe a large government does not ensure freedom. If anything, it restricts freedom with the amount of regulations put in place.
Nicole: Being a conservative means that I am able to express my faith and political views in a polite and traditional manner. I believe that being a conservative also allows me to have personal responsibility and pursue my own goals without government interference.
Paige: Being a conservative means that I am able to be true to my values. I believe that it allows me to be myself and be faithful to my faith and country.
Amber: I am a conservative because it allows me to express my beliefs and views. I believe in working hard and earning what I have and I think being a conservative is a good representation of that.
Meg: I am conservative because of my faith and my values. As a Christian who holds traditional values, I believe that we need to stay true to our values and morals.
Q. What kind of impact do you hope your chapter has on your campus?
Margaret: I hope our chapter is able to help conservative students find a place where they can express their opinions and ideas. As a conservative on a college campus it is difficult to have a political voice. Our chapter strives to educate our members on conservative ideas, so they feel comfortable creating a dialogue with people who have different political ideologies.
Nicole: I hope my chapter can enlighten women and men to stand strong with what they believe, and become more educated on political topics. The more politically correct people are, the better our campus can be.
Paige: I hope that our chapter can allow conservative women on campus to believe that it is important to be yourself and that you can accomplish anything you want. If more people on our campus are properly informed then hopefully there will be less hate and more communication.
Amber: I hope my chapter is able to encourage the young conservative women on campus to use their voices, and know that what they say matters. Too often conservative women are thought to be anti-women or only conservative because the men in their lives are conservative. I think this NeW chapter on campus, with an all female e-board will show others that we are strong females who are capable of forming our own opinions on politics because we are knowledgeable and stay up to date on current events.
Meg: I hope that our chapter can be an outlet for anyone who is conservative and is having a hard time fitting in. I want students who are questioning where they stand politically to feel welcomed by our chapter, and feel that they can stop by anytime to learn about our values. I also hope that our chapter can be a place where students who are conservative and not can come so together we can create a conversation and find ways to work together.
Q. What are some goals your chapter has for the Fall Semester?
Margaret: We really want to collaborate with the other conservative organizations we have on campus like the College Republicans and the NRA. We are also working on forming a relationship with our county party as well as the Kalamazoo Republican Women’s Association.
Nicole: Some of our goals are to have over 15 members in attendance to meetings, spread conservative viewpoints, work with other organizations on campus, and bring more political speakers on campus.
Paige: Our goal is to communicate through campus that conservative women are women that make their own decisions. This will allow the women on our campus to feel more empowered. Also by expanding our group to show everyone how great NeW can really be.
Amber: Since our chapter is fairly new on campus, I think a big focus would be to get our name out there and expand our numbers. Another goal would be to have discussions about current events at almost every meeting. Our NeW meetings are a great place to have open discussions about current events and I would like to promote that more.
Meg: Our goal is to grow our numbers, but I think our main goal, is to also make ourselves more known around campus. I want our club to be an option for people who may not want to be apart of clubs like College Republicans. I hope our club will be able to have a dialogue with women who are not conservative. I want our members to be aware of others opinions and be able to respect them.
Q. What advice would you give someone who wants to start a chapter?
Margaret: Find a team of young women who are all equally excited and passionate about making a difference on campus. It is so important to have a good team in order to execute your chapter’s goals. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other NeW chapters. I met so many women from across the country at the NeW dessert party during CPAC and they have been a great support system in helping us start this chapter at Western Michigan University.
Nicole: My advice to those who want to start a chapter, is to start small even if you don’t feel like many people will join. The more advertising and social media outreach you do, the more people will be informed about coming.
Paige: My advice would be to plan ahead of time and get some friends together so that you can spread the work amongst everyone. The harder you work the more people you can reach. Also make sure to have a good social presence so that people know as much about your group as they can.
Amber: Advice I would give to someone who wants to start a chapter would be to find a group of a few girls who are very passionate about their conservative values. Numbers do not matter at this point because members will be attracted to the group when they see how passionate the leaders are about conservative values.
Meg: For those who want to start a chapter I would say start with a group of women who are ready to work as a team. Then figure out how you want your chapter to be structured, create a list of goals and set a timeline of when you want them to be met. Do not be discouraged when you do not see the numbers you want right away they will come with time.
Q. What does NeW mean to you?
Margaret: NeW to me is proving that I can support women’s rights and also be conservative. Being conservative is not anti-woman it is definitely pro-woman. NeW empowers me to become the leader that I want to be and stand up for my values.
Nicole: NeW has been a great way for me to become more involved with conservative topics. To me, it means that I can create valuable relationships with confident females all across the country that have the same conservative views as I do. I am now a powerful leader that pushes for beliefs, that I think are right.
Paige: NeW to me means that I am able to express my conservative views with other like minded women on campus. NeW is a way for me to express my concerns or appreciation that I may be having with the government or country with women who are also informed on the topic.
Amber: To me, NeW means a group of strong conservative women and men who support conservative women who all get together to have valuable discussions and offer support for one another.
Meg: To me NeW is such an exciting opportunity. It is a place where like minded people can gather together and have a conversation and not feel like they have to constantly defend their opinions. NeW is giving many women who may feel intimidated by other conservative clubs a place to put their feet in the water and see if it is the right place for them. Being in college we are constantly swarmed with liberal content, but NeW is a place that allows members to let their walls down and be their true self.