Move Over, Ann Coulter

Last fall, a sophomore at Arizona State University named Matthew Jezierski started a club in honor of a group he considers to be oppressed and undervalued: the white male. The Caucasian American Men of ASU grabbed attention thanks to the club's name, but Jezierski insisted it wasn't a white pride organization. Jezierski, who is fluent in Polish (he was born in the United States), said he only wanted to promote cultural awareness. He didn't understand why being of European descent is anything to be ashamed of.

CAMASU copied its mission statement almost verbatim from the African American Men of ASU, with a few obvious changes. Its supporters (at one time, the club had 40 members) told reporters that white males are quickly becoming a minority on college campuses and in America, and that their numbers are declining by outstanding percentages.

Um, not quite. Not in Arizona, and definitely not at Arizona State. In 2006, 283 black ASU students graduated with about 7,000 of their white peers.

Once again, Arizona became the national butt of a joke. Even Conan O'Brien made fun.

"A group of students at Arizona State University have caused a controversy because they've been going by the name The Campus Caucasian Club," O'Brien said in a November broadcast of Late Night. "Administrators have asked the group to go back to its original name, The Golf Team."

When the club started, Jezierski told the campus newspaper, "This club is a way to instill pride in each other and not be ashamed we're Caucasian males."

But recently, when contacted by New Times, he sounded sheepish. "It dwindled off," he said. "There's not much interest in it." He didn't really want to talk about the club anymore.

Maybe that's because Jezierski wasn't really the one behind it in the first place.

The truth is that a woman started the Caucasian American Men of ASU: a blond-haired, blue-eyed former beauty pageant queen named Emily Mitchell, who never even went to Arizona State University.

Without Mitchell, an energetic 24-year-old hired gun dropped onto the ASU campus from South Carolina, Jezierski's idea would likely have remained just that. Emily Mitchell looks like just another undergrad, but she's actually a political organizer working for a Virginia-based nonprofit called the Leadership Institute.

The Leadership Institute was founded in the late '70s to put young conservatives into prominent positions. Four years ago, LI started a campus leadership program. It's Mitchell's job to push students like Jezierski to become active in what she calls the conservative movement. She takes the kids from idea to action. And she relishes the controversy some of her organizations, like CAMASU, create.

Mitchell started 57 clubs on Arizona college campuses during the 2006-2007 school year, including CAMASU; the New Sexual Revolution, an abstinence club; and the Network of Enlightened Women, a conservative women's group opposed to radical feminism and concepts such as women's studies or The Vagina Monologues, one she says she'd like to be a part of if she were a student. She also started Choice Magazine, a libertarian publication. And she supported established clubs like ASU's anti-abortion group Students for Life, founding chapters on other college campuses.

Surprisingly, she doesn't work closely with the College Republicans. Though some of her acolytes may be involved with that group, she doesn't seek them out. The Leadership Institute is interested in focusing on issues, not politicians.

It would be easy to stereotype Emily Mitchell — she's just the kind of Ann Coulterish conservative (even looks like her) the left loves to hate. But Mitchell defies the stereotype of the slack-jawed racist or religious wing nut.

A member of Mensa and a perennial scholarship winner, she holds a degree in biology. And she's charming. In one breath, Mitchell can explain why she's against Hillary Clinton, affirmative action and feminism, then switch gears with a smile and offer you a cookie.

She considers herself a new kind of activist, in charge of an anti-revolutionary revolution, but what's more interesting is that someone her age is even active in politics at all.

This generation of college students isn't exactly known for political activity, and ASU has rightfully earned the nickname Apathetic State University. The only times students are truly excited about politics are when they involve a brush with celebrity. Last fall, when former President Clinton visited campus to push the Democratic midterm agenda, students mobbed Hayden Lawn to catch a glimpse. Few showed interest in the warm-up act, stump speeches from local politicians — the ones they'd be voting for or against (assuming they voted at all). Clinton's charisma was what drew them outside in the hot sun for over an hour.

And in 2004, when ASU hosted the third presidential debate between George W. Bush and John Kerry, the campus was abuzz with political activity — but only when the national news cameras were rolling. When CNN filmed an episode of Crossfire live from Hayden Lawn, students packed the front rows, waving signs every time the cameraman zoomed out for a panoramic shot, but were silent when the cameras turned off for the day.

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Megan Irwin
Contact: Megan Irwin