Conservatives Lead `Coming Out' Dinner

It wasn't your typical coming out party. Braving heavy snow and bitter-cold winds to profess political beliefs they said were in the minority on campus, about 50 students last night gathered at the Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel for a "conservative coming out dinner."

The dinner was a forum for students to openly confess their conservative political viewpoints in a supportive environment.

"It's really just an event to show that there is a strong Republican community at Harvard and that no one should feel intimidated to share his or her political beliefs," said Michael G. Housman '02, who helped plan the event.

Housman is co-chair of Jews for Conservative Politics (JCP) which organized the dinner along with the Harvard-Radcliffe Republican Club (HRRC) and the Harvard Salient, a conservative campus publication.

The dinner took place in a room decorated with signs reading "Greater Opportunity Party" and "Friends Help Friends Vote Conservative." The event convened with a group recital of the pledge of allegiance, followed by a meal consisting of salad, vegetables, steak and baked potatoes. A boom box played John Philip Sousa tunes as students talked about life as a conservative at Harvard.


"I came to talk to people with common beliefs. I definitely feel that I'm in the political minority," said Brian R. Smith '02, the membership director of the HRRC.

Anne L. Berry '01, HRRC president, said last night's coming out event "isn't a statement about other groups commonly associated with `coming out' events."

"Rather, it's a realization that at a place like Harvard, a coming out event for conservatives is a good way to meet the other conservatives, increase conservative visibility and be proud of conservatism," she added.

Many students at the dinner lamented the liberal leanings of many Harvard professors and students.

"I think Harvard is significantly liberal, but I think other viewpoints are listened to," said Travis F. Batty '02, the press agent for HRRC.

The hosts served apple pie for dessert while a number of students told the group about their experiences as conservatives.

Housman said that he first realized he was conservative when "I got my first paycheckand didn't get as much as I thought I was going toget," because of taxes.

Rachel L. Brown `01 said that her liberalfamily was disappointed in her beliefs.

"My parents think [conservatism] is a phase I'mgoing through," she said.

Roman Martinez `01 said that upon becomingeditor of the Harvard Salient, he was told,"You're now the campus antiChrist."

Organizers said this is the first "coming out"dinner of its kind in Harvard's recent past.

"It just started as an idea I had to bring allof the `closet Republicans' at Harvard out oftheir rooms and give them a chance to meet oneanother," Housman wrote in an e-mail message.

Before the dinner, Housman said he was pleasedwith the amount of student interest in the event.

"I was originally expecting about 30 people toattend, but now we've received RSVPs from 62, so Ithink that says something for the conservatives oncampus," he said