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Conservative alum's new book takes on Brown's liberal atmosphere

Travis Rowley '02 has some things to say about his alma mater.

"Until I arrived on Brown's campus I had never before met a body of people as Machiavellian, as dishonest, as immoral, and as willing to behave with such vile contempt as were Ivy League liberals," Rowley writes in an excerpt from his upcoming book that was pre-released to The Herald.

Rowley's 250-page book, "Out of Ivy: How a Liberal Ivy Created a Committed Conservative," describes his experience as an athlete and a conservative on Brown's predominantly liberal campus. The book is completed, and Rowley said it is scheduled to be published next month but did not provide the name of the publisher. "I'm going to keep the first edition local," Rowley said.

Since graduating, Rowley said he has spent significant time on the book in addition to entrepreneurial ventures and work for the Brown Spectator. Passages from the book have appeared in the Providence Journal and the Spectator.

An avowed conservative, Rowley freely acknowledges his book's partisan zeal. "Its goal is to reform Brown," he said in an interview with The Herald.

Rowley, who was a tri-captain of the football team as an undergraduate, said his experience as a football player on College Hill brought his political sentiments to the fore.

"Brown's campus was victimization," he wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. "Sentiments of pity and victim-hood just don't resonate with the rugged nature of your typical football player."

He said athletes constitute a substantial number of conservatives at Brown, and he has a few guesses as to why athletes often lean right politically. "Foremost, athletics teaches conservative values," he said.

Football player Will Averill '09 agreed that many of his teammates share a similar political perspective. "Everyone is pretty much conservative on the football team," he said. Averill said the majority of football players are quieter about their views, especially in comparison to Rowley. "We don't really talk about politics at practice."

Rowley said the time commitment required by most Brown sports prevents student-athletes from being more vocal about their political views or participating in activism on campus. But in terms of politics, he said, "activism taints."

Beyond his position as an athlete at Brown, Rowley said growing up in a Catholic family in Rhode Island also contributed to his current perspective.

"My upbringing really disagreed with what I saw at Brown," Rowley said. "I was insulted almost the entire time."

Rowley said he also saw a form of censorship rise alongside the activity of minority groups and what he described as politically correct speech.

In a diverse student body, conservatives are the only minority "being silenced" on campus, he said. "When you're made to feel stupid or mean for your views, it is a powerful way to shut someone up," Rowley said.

Rowley voices grievances with a variety of aspects of the Brown community, including political correctness, victimization, radical feminism and anti-Americanism.

"While freshman dorms may have personified the diversity of the student body, the following three years were typified by our segregation," Rowley writes in his book.

"The creation of multicultural student-groups, the drift of African-American students into all-black dorms, the isolated Hispanic Machado House, the fraternity scene being dominated by Brown's white athletes, and the cafeteria's dining tables being able to be described as white, black, or Asian couldn't have more perfectly demonstrated how phony and politically correct Brown's diversity-push actually was," Rowley states in another excerpt.

Rowley also faults unbalanced political representation among Brown professors for fostering an anti-American attitude. He told The Herald that by his own estimation, "around 90 percent of professors consider themselves Democrats."

"When you're restricted from hearing other points, naturally the group drifts towards an extremist perspective," he added.

As Rowley writes in the book, "Many of my classmates now perceived America as an immoral nation, a ruthless murderer, a barbaric imperialist, devoted to selfish acts of greed and racism."

Claims such as these have already fostered debate.

"His views are pretty strident," said Marc Frank '09, member of the College Republicans. "But he makes an excellent point. We do not practice what we preach."

For other conservatives, Brown's political atmosphere has not been as troubling.

"I came to Brown because it was liberal," said Evan Pettyjohn '06, president of the College Republicans. "I like people challenging me everyday," he added.

Rowley acknowledges his book will be a controversial topic on campus. It's for the Brown community, he said.


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