The Collegiate Network is an organization, administered by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which provides funding for students on college campuses nationwide to publish “alternative” newspapers. Although Collegiate Network currently bills itself as “The Home Of Independent College Journalism,” the former slogan is more factual: “The Home Of Conservative College Journalism.” Collegiate Network runs a daily news website, CN Newslink, which accepts submissions from “conservative and libertarian undergraduates.” The goal of CN funding is to allow student newspapers to achieve greater independence from university administrators, so as to better critique “the politicization of American college and university classrooms, curricula, student life, and the resulting decline of educational standards.”
Along with providing funding assistance for around 100 student publications nationwide as well as sponsoring internships and journalism training programs, the organization additionally makes regular donations to fund the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s student journalism program, according to its 990s.
CN’s alumni network is broad and contains a number of influential journalists and public figures.
Infamously, Dinesh D’Souza, known for a variety of opinions, including arguing that “the cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11,” got his start in writing as one of the early editors of the Dartmouth Review, a CN publication. While he edited the Dartmouth Review, the newspaper received significant criticism for a variety of items it published, including a “parody” of Dartmouth’s affirmative action policy written entirely in Ebonics, which caused Jack Kemp to resign from the publication’s advisory board. Another controversial item was an article that published a list of, and letters by, student members of the Dartmouth’s Gay Student Association, some of which were outed against their will by the list. The New York Times noted, “One [gay] student named [by the review], according to his friends, became severely depressed and talked repeatedly of suicide.”
Another alumni is Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review. Lowry, who started at CN’s Virginia Advocate, has been a voice of the conservative right for several years. In August 2014, he suggested at a Heritage Foundation event that pro-immigration-reform Republicans should be “shot” and “hanged.” Media Matters’s collection of Lowry’s greatest/worst hits is 97 items long, including declarations that ongoing civil rights struggles are actually about “imagined slights and manufactured controversies,” claiming that the effect of increasing the minimum wage “basically will be to give a small boost to the wage of teenagers working summers or after school” and calling people who believe in global warming a “doomsday cult.”
Another conservative talking head who wrote “global warming cultists want us all dead” also got her start in a CN paper. Before she was calling growing interest in soccer “a sign of the nation’s moral decay,” Ann Coulter was writing for Collegiate Network’s Cornell Review. Not only do the two CN alums agree on climate change; much like Lowry’s “shot and hanged” comment, Coulter threatened Republicans who vote for immigration reform with “death squads.”
Other notable alumni who began their careers at CN newspapers include: Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review, John Podhoretz of Commentary, author and former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, the New York Times’ Ross Douthat, and Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria.