There is a new club on campus: the Bellevue College Conservatives. Matthew Klink, the president and founder of the student organization, is developing a political student group for conservative students at Bellevue College who are looking for a place to share opinions without fear of being singled out or harassed by professors and other students.
“Colleges are supposed to be a place where ideas can be freely exchanged, but unfortunately this is not always the case. I plan on organizing a student group that will represent a large portion of our school’s [34,000] students,” said Klink.
Despite a focus on representing conservative students, the club officially states that it is open to all political views. “It’s open to anyone who is willing to contribute their opinions in a respectable manner,” said Klink.
Although the club has not yet held a meeting, it already has 15 members, all of whom hold differing political views. Klink said, “I, for example, I identify myself as a conservative libertarian. Eric Peterson, the vice president, is a Republican, and there are many moderates.”
“This club has the potential to bring about a lot of change on campus. There are a lot of preconceived notions about people with conservative opinions,” said Peterson.
Although Klink and Peterson have been working on the idea for months, it was the April 15 Tax Day Tea Party that convinced Klink to start the club on campus.
The Tax Day Tea party was a protest in which citizens gathered in more than 800 cities to voice their opposition to excessive spending in government. According to the Seattle Times, there were 5000 people in Olympia, and hundreds in Bellevue outside of city hall. It was the biggest protest to take place in Washington in the past five years. In all, there were 30 tea parties statewide, and thousands more across the country.
The majority of protesters were Republican, but there were many Democrats present as well.
Klink said, “The whole point behind it was bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans are finally starting to look past party politics and come together for a common cause, and it the amount of people that turned out shows how significant it was,”
After the tea party, Brandon Curtis, another member of the club, created the Bellevue College Conservatives logo. It features a coiled rattlesnake, a symbol taken from a flag that dates back to the American Revolution. The original flag is called the Gadsden flag, which has the same coiled rattlesnake with the words “don’t tread on me” underneath it.
The flag was made during a time when colonists in America felt the British government was becoming unbearably intrusive, especially in the form of taxation.
“Two and a half centuries later, our federal government has become intrusive and our tax dollars are being spent at an alarming rate. The Gadsden flag stands for conservative principles that are clearly outlined in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution—small government, religious tolerance, and ‘the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’
“The Tea Party protests showed me that there are still a lot of us conservatives around, even in the Northwest. Many of us have been afraid to step up and speak our minds, but I see that changing now,” said Klink. “I hope that this group can bring respectable debate in the classrooms without people being afraid of failing a class if they speak what is really on their mind,”
“This group can also help to achieve better political awareness for the students at our school. All too often we hear onesided arguments and that is not the way it should be in a college,” said Peterson.
For more information, search “bellevue college conservatives” on Facebook or contact bellevuecollegeconservatives@ gmail.com. The first weekly meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 29 at 2:30 pm in the library.