Who they are: College Republicans is a conservative political club that supports the ideology of the Republican Party. They bring speakers to campus who identify as moderate, libertarian, objectivist and conservative.
What they do: The organization mainly hosts speakers, debates and activities. The club meets once a week to discuss current events. “The organization serves to anyone who doesn’t fall into a solid liberal category and wants a space to share their views,” said executive board member Sarah Reitmeister. She also emphasized that the club has a fairly wide range of beliefs; she herself identifies as a libertarian with socially liberal and fiscally conservative viewpoints.
Goal: College Republicans hopes to increase conversation and acceptance of Republican and conservative ideology on campus.
What they are up to right now:
Most recently, College Republicans hosted conservative writer and speaker Matt Walsh. Prior to entering the room, the guests were asked to leave their bags in a separate area. There were also police officers stationed at every entrance. Walsh spoke about some of today’s most controversial topics, including abortions, gay marriage laws and transgender rights. Reitmeister said that she personally does not agree with most of the points Walsh made.
“I absolutely believe in the importance of being able to have speakers like that on campus because his views are held by a good 45 to 50% of the country,” Reitmeister said. “I don't think they should be shot down just because they're different. We bring speakers on campus so that we can have an opportunity to show people what we’re all about. We’re not here to change anybody’s mind [or] expand the group.”
Reitmeister also said she believes that there is a stereotype on campus that the club is very monolithic and worries people think it’s just a place for people to band together and oppose everything. She also believes a lot of members feel they need to hide their views from most of campus because they are scared of being ridiculed or ostracized.
“My very first meeting at College Republicans this year, our former president was asked the question, ‘How do you tell people that you're the president of College Republicans?’ And he said, ‘I don't,’ and that's pretty much true for a lot of us.”
Following Walsh’s appearance on campus, College Democrats issued a condemnation letter regarding their choice of speaker, specifically because of his comments on Twitter about the recent heartbeat bill passed. The club also considered his other tweets when writing their letter.
Director of Public Relations of College Democrats Cameron Peters said that while they believe Walsh had the right to speak on campus, they are disappointed with the club’s choice.
Peters also said they would like to see College Republicans and everyone on campus be more considerate about who they invite to speak and to what ideas they’re giving platforms
While College Republicans chose not to officially respond to the letter in fear of coming across argumentative or hostile, Reitmeister said the club found the letter to be contradictory.
“They began their letter of condemnation by saying that they supported the values of free speech, but then they ended up condemning our choice of speaker and saying that we shouldn't give him a platform on campus,” Reitmeister said. “We just decided that there's nothing that we're going to say that's going to change their minds about that. We want to have a relationship with College Democrats because it's important to have open discourse across party lines.”