Conservative Interest Group plans expansion on campus and across state lines

Haley Candelario

Students on college campuses are too used to the leftist viewpoint, according to Juan Caro, the chair of the Conservative Interest Group of Colorado.

The organization, which angered students in October 2016 for building a ‘free speech wall’ on the Plaza, started as a way to get more representation in the Associated Students of Colorado State University.

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“I realized that there was one conservative (Sam Laffey) who was very well-spoken, but wasn’t getting any traction,” Caro said. “His arguments were strong, his points were valid (but) he was just getting ignored and disrespected by student government.”

Caro felt Laffey was the only member of ASCSU voicing the conservative argument when he joined the senate in late 2015. He said he joined Laffey and recruited members to ASCSU who would build more opposition within the senate Caro said lacked debate.

Caro said the namesake of the group came from members Timothy Miller, Landon Wright, Sam Laffey and Caro asking for cigarette breaks to discuss how to debate bills they opposed.

“We started calling ourselves the CIG Caucus because we’d go outside for cigarette breaks,” Caro said. “We would be faced with a bill and we didn’t have the numbers to shoot it down (so) … we would go outside to smoke a cigarette … and say, ‘hey how do we debate this bill?'”

Caro said the extra time allowed the group to organize ideas about how to debate the bills, and they would occasionally decide to leave the senate meetings to break quorum. Breaking quorum prevented ASCSU from being able to continue the meeting.

Caro said many members of the group decide to focus on academics after the Diversity Bill passed and did not return for Pineda Soraca’s administration in order to focus on Colorado legislation.

“We realized we could do a lot more for the people of Colorado by leaving student government and focusing more on real issues (like) going to city hall and speaking on U+2 for instance,” Caro said. “We don’t want to be involved in student government.”

The group plans demonstrations and protests, such as the ‘free speech walls’ they assembled on the plaza in October 2016 and February 2017, to expose students to conservative values.

“The first wall we built was an absolute disaster,” Caro said. “The second time we built the exact same wall was an even worse time to build it. We picked a day when there was an immigration protest, so we built a wall, and the message that sends is definitely a lot more controversial than the first time we built a wall. People reacted so much better to the wall the second time because it wasn’t the first time they were exposed to us and that opinion.”

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Caro said the Conservative Interest Group hopes to apply for a 501(c)(4) and be a conservative voice on the CSU campus, so more students are accustomed to conservative values.

“We need to start bringing these perspectives on college campuses, so students get accustomed to them and start reacting to them better,” Caro said.

Collegian reporter Haley Candelario can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @H_Candelario98.