ETSU Becomes Battleground For Conservative Vs. Leftist Politics

Photo: ETSU main library Photo Credit: Smoke321 / CC

The Tennessee Conservative [By Kelly M. Jackson] –

Last night at 7pm on the Eastern Tennessee State University Campus, The Conservative Coalition of ETSU in co-sponsorship with Young Americas Foundation hosted conservative powerhouse Michael Knowles of The Daily Wire. Knowles is also the best-selling author of the 2021 release “Speechless: Controlling Words, Controlling Minds”.

Prior to the event, the students in both the Conservative Coalition group as well as other conservative groups on campus, have been receiving intimidation and threats of violence if they follow through with the event. 

The Tennessee Conservative spoke first to Rachel Harrington, a student who is a board member of the on-campus chapter of CCA, who conveyed that things have been getting more hostile between the campus conservative groups and those who oppose their values. Particularly vocal are the on-campus members of the group Young Democratic Socialists of America.

The ire began last semester when the conservative group hosted a viewing of Matt Walsh’s film on campus, “What Is A Woman?”. Rachel explained that it was supposed to be a very casual event because they had a speaker coming in directly after the movie. Once the opposition groups on campus received word about the showing, there were protests organized against it, which according to Rachel, only drew an even larger crowd to see the film.

Additionally that semester, the conservative group invited The Center For Bioethical Reform, an anti-abortion group who exhibits the atrocities of abortion through the use of realistic and somewhat graphic photos of abortion procedures likening them to other forms of genocide.

This led to an onslaught of personal attacks, threats and harassment, posted on the group’s social media accounts.

Most recently, in response to the passage of legislation in Tennessee that prohibits the performance of drag shows where children may be present, the Young Democratic Socialists of America hosted an event called “Can’t Drag Us Down: Drag Show and Story Hour” meant to be held on campus, and for all ages. 

The university not only made the group relocate the event from where they had planned it, but also required that the group put an 18+ age restriction for admission, in anticipation of the new laws going into effect the following day.

In attendance at that show was Kate Craig, former Tennessee House Democrat candidate for District 3, (which covers Washington, Carter and Johnson counties), as well as Marianne Williamson, spiritual guru and current candidate for President of The United States running against Joe Biden. 

Shortly after, the conservative groups announced the Michael Knowles appearance which had been planned since February. YDSA assumed the Knowles appearance was in response to their drag show and were even further upset because the announcement was made on “Trans Visibility Day”. 

The conservative group which also includes student Kyler Glover, President of the Conservative Coalition on campus, who has also been subjected to threats of violence and harassment from leftist on-campus groups. He said this is the most heated he has seen things get so far in all his time at ETSU. Glover also stated that even though the groups have different goals, the conservative groups have never called for cancellation of any of the opposition’s events because they understand what it means to have free speech in America. 

Glover said that at the drag show event on March 31st, Ms. Craig called for protests of the Michael Knowles event. Craig has attacked Knowles via Twitter, concerning his comments about eradicating “transgenderism” from society, mischaracterizing it to mean that he was calling for the eradication of transgender people. 

The Tennessee Conservative reached out to Young Americas Foundation about the event they are co-hosting and was given a statement by their Director of Membership Bre Marsh: 

“We are proud to support Michael Knowles and his strong conservative message. We believe that events like these are essential for fostering intellectual diversity on college campuses and promoting critical thinking among students. It is disappointing to see that some individuals would resort to harassment and attempts to cancel the event simply because they disagree with Michael’s views. YAF always encourages those who disagree with our speakers to engage in thoughtful and respectful discussion during the question-and-answer portion of the program. We’re confident that the event will be a success.”

Based on accounts from the conservative groups featured here and photos sent to The Tennessee Conservative, any calls for protests from progressives fell on deaf ears and the event was indeed a packed house success. 

The story here does illustrate that in this very “red” state, there are issues with leftist groups intent on taking the state for themselves. 

Our RINO Report coming at the end of the General Session will give some insight into how seriously the Republican supermajority in our state is treating this encroachment… or if they are relatively complacent as they have been in years past. 

About the Author: Kelly Jackson is a recent escapee from corporate America, and a California refugee to Tennessee. Christ follower, Wife and Mom of three amazing teenagers. She has a BA in Comm from Point Loma Nazarene University, and has a background in law enforcement and human resources. Since the summer of 2020, she has spent any and all free time in the trenches with local grassroots orgs, including Mom’s for Liberty Williamson County and Tennessee Stands as a core member.  Outspoken advocate for parents rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty. Kelly can be reached at

2 thoughts on “ETSU Becomes Battleground For Conservative Vs. Leftist Politics

  • April 13, 2023 at 7:29 pm

    It is really sad that those who are looking for acceptance of their radical progressive and Socialist agenda fail to accept the idea that there are opposing points of view. That is what makes America great – the knowledge that we have freedom of speech, thought, beliefs, and expression. They would not feel so targeted and harassed if they just accepted that and let their peers have their own freedom of speech.

  • April 14, 2023 at 4:04 am

    Thanks for this article, Kelly. I appreciate the informed update.

    I have experience with some of these groups, having been a member of the Conservative Coaltion at ETSU in 2019 and 2020.

    As a (former) writer for the campus newspaper, the “East Tennessean,” I like wondering if the articles I wrote helped strengthen the conservative contingency we see at ETSU.

    – Alex Mauger


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