Student Spotlight - Catherine Smith
In the world of modern academia, even the most casual observer quickly becomes aware of an ever present irony: the marked tendency on many of our college campuses to enforce a politically correct ideology at the expense of reasoned dialectic.
Since dialectic is one of the most effective exercises for sharpening the intellect, and since one of the main tasks entrusted to the university is to hone young minds to their full potential, the neglect of dialectic is ironic nearly to the point of absurdity.
And unfortunately, many conservative students unwittingly fall into this trap as well: in their attempt to combat ideology, some students skip the careful steps involved in articulating a well-reasoned argument in order to win the day's battle.
Not so the president of the newly formed chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women on Arizona State University's campus. Catherine Smith is taking a careful look at not only the goals she chooses to pursue, but also the means by which she hopes to attain them: "It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of standing up to liberals and trying to be against everything they say. Since my first years of conservative activism, I have learned that my primary goal is not to stomp on liberals, but to speak the truth â€¦ and open discussion about the issues of the day."
Her approach seems to be paying off. She sees that even her groups' "small effort[s], wisely and steadily applied" are producing remarkable results. Catherine's group recently challenged the prevailing view on campus regarding the play be Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues, by inviting a philosophy professor to campus who would present another interpretation of the play â€“ one unlikely to be heard on her campus.
Christina Hoff Sommers, author of The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men, pointed out in her talk that the play is strenuously "anti-male." The talk resulted in exactly the kind of discussion that Catherine had hoped to engender in the students who attended.
Her group's mission fits very well into this commitment to deepening the understanding of the larger social issues at stake; one of several new, cutting edge grassroots efforts, NeW works to articulate a positive vision of the relationship between men and women by meeting regularly to discuss important texts on the subject, as well as hosting speakers on campus.
In her work, Catherine collaborates with another new student organization at ASU, the New Sexual Revolution, to take the level of discussion about human sexuality on her campus to a more profound level, one which will help to "reclaim human dignity among students at universities and colleges throughout the nation."
The group is also committed to renewing the culture on campus on other levels, not just the intellectual: her group won the Spirit Award in November 2006 by out-decorating all the other groups during homecoming week.
Catherine is a native Arizonan. She grew up in the small town of Maricopa, where her father farmed turf. Her family now lives in Phoenix (where her father still farms turf). Catherine hopes to be married one day and either educate her children at home or teach Latin at the high school level.