College Champion for Conservatism: Tyler Roberts, LI Grad of the Week

February 21, 2012 | By Lauren Hart

As a young twenty-something college senior Tyler Roberts tirelessly fights liberal bias on the University of Oklahoma’s campus.  Additionally, he organizes youth for conservative campaigns and lobbing causes at the state level.  Simply put, Tyler is a college champion for conservatism.

He brings in big-name conservative stars to his university’s student group—Young Conservatives of Oklahoma (YCOK)—that he cofounded and is the current serving chairman.  

YCOK is an organization that advocates for conservative values while promoting a return to intellectual political discourse.  The group recruits young conservatives, provides them with excellent resources, hosts interesting events, and connects students to the broader Oklahoman conservative community. 

In September 2010 Tyler and Taylor Stair, cofounded the YCOK.  Taylor was a transfer student from American University in Washington, D.C.

“While in DC, Taylor attended many Leadership Institute (LI) training programs,” Tyler recalls.  “I was impressed by his knowledge and attempted to arrange for a LI workshop at OU. Within 24 hours, I had been contacted by Tony Listi, a LI regional field coordinator, about starting a conservative youth organization in Oklahoma and by the end of the week, we had YCOK.”

At YCOK’s kick-off event, they hosted Herman Cain and later assisted the Oklahoma Policy Council with their event featuring Dinesh D’Souza.

“LI has developed excellent techniques which can be easily applied to any organization,” Tyler said.  “LI has without a doubt made YCOK a more effective organization.”

The campus group creates creative ways to get the conservative message of free markets and limited government across.

“In November 2010, with help from LI’s Campus Reform field staff, we created a Graveyard of American Liberties,” Tyler said.  The graveyard was filled with tombstones that read: Rest in Peace for the Constitution, the free market, and American Liberties, each killed by the left respectively in 1912 with Woodrow Wilson's presidency, 2007 with the bailouts, and 2008 with the presidency of Barack Obama.

YCOK is also a big promoter of education reform.  In November 2011, the group hosted conservative film maker Bob Bowdon and California Teachers Empowerment Network former Director Larry Sand. 
“The events featuring these speakers received considerable attention from the local media, largely due the support from the Campus Reform staff in composing and releasing our press statement,” Tyler said.

A few weeks ago, YCOK partnered with a coalition of Oklahoma groups for National School Choice Week, where they hosted former Congressman J.C. Watts, Wall Street Journal Columnist John Fund, State Superintendent Janet Barresi, State Senator Gary Stanislawski, and the Friedman Foundation’s Jeff Reed.

But YCOK does more than just organize innovative, conservative events on campus.

The passionate students pass out books on conservative philosophy to fellow college classmates; they campaign for local, conservative candidates; and they lobby and champion conservative causes and legislation at the state capitol.  

“Often we come to a place in the organizational process where we simply do not know where to go, but thanks to the Leadership Institute we have been able to overcome many obstacles and learn how to better promote our events and gain the maximum level of exposure,” Tyler said. 

Born in the small city of Enid, Oklahoma, Tyler enjoyed organizing events even as a teenager. In high school, Tyler coordinated concerts and summer music festivals like the Enid Music Festival in 2006 that featured dozens of bands and attracted hundreds of guests across Oklahoma.

A graduate of the Oklahoma Bible Academy in 2008, Tyler attended Seton Hall University in New Jersey for his freshman year and then transferred to The University of Oklahoma in August 2009. He studies nonprofit and government relations and political science, and expects to graduate in August 2012.

Tyler soaks up many conservative opportunities.

In the spring of 2011 he interned in Congressman Frank Lucas’s office and later that summer he took an internship in Alexandria, Virginia for Smart Media Group.  When not working for YCOK, Tyler helps on the Kyle Loveless for State Senate campaign.

“I always encourage others to attend LI workshops,” Tyler said.  “I would also and encourage any student that is interested in starting a campus organization to reach out to the Campus Reform staff and their abundance of knowledge.” 

To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate to be featured as LI's graduate of the week, please contact LI's External Affairs Officer Lauren Hart at LaurenHart@LeadershipInstitute.org.