Lauren McCue is a student activist at Virginia Tech University and served this past summer as an Institute intern. Institute Lecture Director Laurel Conrad interviewed this emerging leader recently about her experience in hosting a standing-room-only campus lecture at her school. A video of the interview is below as well.
Tell about your experience putting on a lecture this Fall at Virginia Tech with the Luce Institute?
This past semester I put on an event with over 300 people in attendance titled "Alien Invasion: How Illegal Immigration is Hurting America." I thought the lecture title was catchy and, more importantly, true. Little did I know that simply hosting a strong conservative woman, Bay Buchanan, would lead me to lose funding for my conservative club, and become enemy number one in the eyes of leftist students, staff and administrators.
It was all worth it, because for the first time, conservatives at Virginia Tech stood up to the left and won. After the flood of media attention on the issue, I had the administrators begging me, a conservative, to make it all stop.
In the end we got our funding back and showed the left that their reign of intimidating and shutting conservatives down at Virginia Tech was over.
What inspired you to put on a lecture at your college?
I came into an internship this summer at the Luce Institute with very little activism experience, and ended it heading to Virginia Tech as the Chair of a new conservative YAF club on campus. Being a Luce intern this summer helped me to step forward on my campus.
I want other conservative young women to be inspired by my story to stand up for what they believe in on their college campuses. By doing so, you will pave the path and make it easier for future conservatives to do the same. How come liberal activism has become a norm, yet conservative activism often makes national news? There is a true need for conservatives, women especially, to be part of a grassroots movement on college campuses to reverse liberal indoctrination and promote intellectual diversity. Anyone can take a stand and make it known that First Amendment abuses and censorship of conservatives will not be tolerated.
Conservatives should not feel like they have to hide their beliefs or be bullied into pretending that they are something they're not, just to appease their liberal campus.
What advice would you give a young conservative women student who wants to step up?
The best advice I could give to other activists is to BE BOLD, and NEVER BACK DOWN.
The whole point of activism is to reach the largest audience possible. Students sit in their class lectures for hours upon hours each day. Pull them into a conservative event and give them a reason to hear a great Luce Institute woman speaker. This involves creating a bold flier, plastering your school with them and tabling to get the word out. Use social media, but as a supplement, and never underestimate the power of person to person interaction to draw in a crowd. Be a confident leader that others can follow and excite other students on your campus to join your conservative crusade!
Once you've successfully made your event the talk of the campus, you are likely to face opposition. In my case they threatened us with protests, social media posts from university accounts condemning my group, and harassment of conservatives while tabling.
The left wants you to back down, cancel your event, or subdue your activism. The second you do that, you lose, they win. The best way to respond to the left's intimidation tactics is to come back even stronger and bolder. Always be looking for ways for your message to reach an even broader and larger audience. Never apologize for the conservative cause.
Tell a little about your internship this summer at the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute?
My summer at the Luce Institute was the most transformative time of my life. I came in with a cloudy vision of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and left with the utmost clarity of God's will for me to dedicate my life to the Conservative Movement.
Coming into the office every day and having the luxury of working with strong, accomplished women who shared the same values as me was empowering and uplifting.
Being a conservative woman on a college campus, there are many days when you feel like you are alone. The network of conservative women I have met at Luce events continue to inspire and encourage me to keep fighting the good fight. I've made some of my best friends through Luce, and even talk to one of the other interns, Samantha at University of Michigan, every day as we trek through life challenging the left and defy the stereotypes of being young, conservative and female.
Even once the summer ended, the staff at Luce was so supportive and helped me every step of the way when planning my lecture. I knew I could always turn to them when I had questions or needed guidance on how to proceed with difficult situations. I never once felt like I was planning this event alone.
Any final thoughts you want to share, Lauren?
I first came to Luce knowing that I was a strong conservative, but left it with such a deeper understanding and devotion to conservative principles and values. They taught me to be strong, and bold. I left with the tools and confidence to really make a difference on my campus and beyond. I am so thankful and proud to be a Luce Lady!
Photos: top left, Lauren speaking at the Institute’s 2014 Intern Seminar in Washington DC; bottom right, Lauren (6th from the left) with her fellow 2014 summer interns.