The Republican club seceded from the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans last night amid calls from leaders in the state-wide organization for club president Brad DeFlumeri to step down.
Voting 5-4 to sever ties with the organization, the decision came after MACR chairman Brian Gwozdz e-mailed members of the club and other campus Republican groups across the commonwealth urging them to impeach DeFlumeri on the grounds of alleged sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct.
“I think the decisions made by the Republican club were very sound and practical decisions that consisted with the long-term best interests of the club,” DeFlumeri said. “I think the allegations set forward by MACR were unfounded and absurd and our votes clearly indicated that we rejected everything that they asserted and we stand firm and proud as an independent and fully functional UMass Amherst Republican club.”
Gwozdz alleges that DeFlumeri has, over the past several months, sexually harassed female members of the MACR member clubs. The e-mail – signed by 29 MACR officials and leaders of campus Republican groups state-wide – called for DeFlumeri’s removal from his position as president by Feb. 6, at which time MACR would have moved to derecognize the UMass Republican club.
“It’s just gotten way out of control. We’ve gotten a lot of complaints over the past couple of weeks of harassing emails and Facebook comments,” said Gwozdz, a former UMass student and UMass Republican club member who is currently enrolled at Boston College. “Some people are worried about their safety.”
DeFlumeri rejected the allegations raised by Gwozdz and MACR calling them “outlandish and false.”
According to DeFlumeri, Gwozdz had a prior conflict of a personal nature that has influenced his move to unseat the Republican club president.
While Gwozdz confirmed the past dispute, he refuted accusations that he had “a personal vendetta” against DeFlumeri.
“Our entire exec board all realized what he’d been doing. Some of us had been contacted by him,” he said. “It’s a pretty unanimous decision that he needs to go.”
Republican club Vice President Derek Khanna called on DeFlumeri to “step aside” in the best interests of the group, voting against the move to secede.
“I don’t think secession serves any of our interests and it’s a ludicrous opposition on the whole,” Khanna said. “I think the decision was between impeaching an individual who has been guilty of numerous crimes – most of which have been proven, some of which have not been proven – and supporting him to the hilt or asking him to move aside and preserving the integrity of the organization.”
According to Khanna, as an independent organization, the UMass Republican club could stand to lose both its affiliation with the Massachusetts Republican Party and its standing as the official Republican registered student organization at UMass.
“It’s a very dangerous proposition,” he said. “Best case scenario we’re allowed to keep our name, and if we’re allowed to keep our name we don’t have to file as a new organization then we can hopefully keep our funding, but if the Massachusetts GOP pushes us really hard, which I believe they’re going to do