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UMass Republicans feel ostracized in political climate

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/ Daily Collegian)

The University of Massachusetts College Republicans held their second meeting on campus last night in room 411 of the Student Union.

When people entered the room, they were greeted with a smile and a “pocket Constitution.” The room was flooded with various greetings and pretty soon familiar conversations swelled up the room; the topics varied from conversations about the weather to the best dining halls.

As an open forum, members are allowed to bring up any topic they want to discuss. The topic last night was North Korea. The final consensus of the room: the situation is complicated.

The meeting included introductions and an activity demonstrating how diverse the opinions in the group were. The activity was a collection of single words to describe the Trump campaign. The words varied from “unpredictable,” “ineffective” and “frustrating” to “brilliant,” “yuge” and “revolutionary.”

Sara Ceasrine, a senior who just joined the club, said, “I feel like I can’t really talk about my views outside of the club so it is a safe space environment a haven for me.”

Ceasrine, a Japanese and comparative literature double major, spent the last year abroad in Japan. She said that being in Japan during the election year “gave [her] this desire, this passion to contribute to America-Japan relations and give a Republican voice.”

Vice President of the UMass College Republicans Carly Bishop, a sophomore political science major, is a strong advocate for the message of the club: come one, come all.

“It’s a good way to have other opinions be voiced on the campus that you wouldn’t normally hear,” Bishop said.

When asked about how comfortable she felt voicing her own political opinions, Bishop stated, “It doesn’t stop me, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most welcoming opinion in the room. I don’t think people really want to hear it.”

She expressed that her goals with the club were to create conversation on campus.

Treasurer John Maloney, a senior sports management major who worked on John Kasich’s campaign in New Hampshire last year, shares this sentiment. He has been a member of the UMass College Republicans for two years and really enjoys the dialogue and climate.

“I hope to make meetings, fun, interesting and thought-provoking, and I hope to help further a good reputation on campus for the club,” said Maloney.

He hopes that, through this club, “we can talk about interesting and controversial things, but in a way that is respectful.”

The President of the UMass College Republicans Alex Gearty, a math major and education and psychology double minor, has been the president of the club for the past two years. She hopes to use the skills she has acquired as president—such as good public speaking—to help her in her future career as a math teacher.

“I like to provide education. I think that you can’t be too educated in a certain subject especially with politics in general,” Gearty said. “I’m trying to educate people on every single topic that we can possibly educate them on, regardless of their political affiliation.”

Gearty stated that the club is, “open to everyone,” to help increase conversations between opposing sides.  Her focus is not just on the outward perspective of the club. She feels she holds a large responsibility for club members. She actively engages her members in conversations and encourages them to participate in constructive disagreement.

“What this campus and this country needs in general is people just talking to each other and talking about what they believe in,” Gearty said. “We’re trying with the UDems to show that there is a diverse amount of opinions on both sides.”

The club is pushing collaboration with the UMass Democrats to have a joint meeting this year to further create a dialogue and engage in constructive disagreement.

At the end of the meeting, the club was asked one question: Do you feel comfortable and safe expressing your political opinions on this campus?

Immediately, 41 people shouted “No!”

Miranda Emily Eden Senft can be reached at msenft@umass.edu.

Comments
2 Responses to “UMass Republicans feel ostracized in political climate”
  1. paige giannetti says:

    I like the comments regarding creating a conversation and being respectful. We all learn through conversation, no matter how controversial the topic! It’s important that people can express their point-of-view safely–without a threat to themselves or to others.

  2. Nitzakhon says:

    @paige:

    The problem is that for the Left, “conversation” really means “shut up” to anyone to the right of Stalin.

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