Counter protest held in UMass

By Collegian Staff

A rally yesterday afternoon in support of a proposed local Wal-Mart expansion drew protests from at least one student group outside the Student Union at the University of Massachusetts.

The UMass Republican Club sponsored the rally, in part, because the group supports Wal-Mart’s low retail prices for working college students, and thinks many of the criticisms against the chain store are unfounded.

Republican Club member and former Student Government Association presidential candidate Rob Shepherd spoke to the crowd at the event. In an interview after last night, he explained that the club’s reasoning behind the rally was due, in part, because their voices are often overshadowed by the majority political groups on campus.

Shepherd said that many of the protestor’s comments were not relevant to the Republican Club’s argument.

“People were heckling us, mostly about the Wal-Mart corporation itself and not the specific store,” said Shepherd.

The Republican Club is rallying support behind an expanded Wal-Mart on Route 9 in Hadley because they say lower prices are good for working college students and the larger store will bring in new jobs.

“It’s a capitalist system. If you really have a problem with Wal-Mart, then don’t shop there because they will lose business,” said Shepherd.

Members from the UMass Radical Student Union were on hand to protest the event.

Some of the RSU members shouted at the Republican Club’s speakers while addressing the crowd. Most of the comments referred to Wal-Mart’s use of cheap overseas labor and low wages for many of its store employees.

-Collegian Staff