New groups for GOP, Democrats

by Beacon Staff • November 7, 2007

In one corner, the nascent Conservative/Libertarian club has joined the Emerson Conservative, which first published last year, as a new outlet for conservative students who said they have long been ignored at Emerson.,The fervor of the 2008 presidential election cycle is stirring up long dormant political factions at Emerson.

In one corner, the nascent Conservative/Libertarian club has joined the Emerson Conservative, which first published last year, as a new outlet for conservative students who said they have long been ignored at Emerson.

In the other, the Emerson Democrats have reformed under new leadership this semester and are coordinating discussions with guest speakers of democratic campaigns.

In the center of the ring, Filibuster, a nonpartisan political journal, is in the process of publishing its second issue after forming late last semester.

"Especially with the elections coming up, I feel like it's giving students a great chance to get involved," said the journal's managing editor, senior Heather Vitale.

"Everyone is starting to develop lucid political opinions."

Freshman Gregory Hurst said the under-representation of right-wing politics inspired him to create the Conservative/Libertarian group and post fliers around campus to gauge interest. He said the tipping point was Emerson's organization fair early this semester, at which he tried and failed to find a group that shared his ideology.

The freshman digital post-production major said he is looking for ways to provide a counterweight to the predominantly liberal politics he said he sees on campus.

"Why are there always students sitting outside of the dining hall urging other students to stop global warming and no one fighting abortion or affirmative action?" he said.

"Everything is so one-sided, so I wanted to see what I could do to counter that."

The impetus for Hurst's Conservative/Libertarian club was similar to that of Phil Primeau's Emerson Conservative, which the organizational and political communication major launched last year, when he was a freshman. His right-wing political journal was partly a reaction to what he perceived as a leftist slant on Emerson's campus and in its classrooms, he told The Beacon in an article about the magazine's launch.

After publishing three issues last year, Primeau hopes to produce a more sophisticated journal with the help of some new contributors. Despite the low budget he had to work with last year, he is optimistic about this year's product.

Primeau said he looks forward to collaborating with Hurst in the future.

"If nothing else, this will give people perspective, even if it doesn't make someone change their political affiliation," Primeau said. "Not every conservative is a Bible-thumping racist. Maybe this group will create a little more sympathy for the other side."

Campus liberals, too, are reorganizing as elections approach.

Sophomore Christopher Boutillier recreated the Emerson Democrats group, which had been defunct for two years.

The group is planning to host campaign representatives for Democratic candidates as guest speakers and canvass at a large political event in early December, Boutillier said.

"Right now we're trying to plan an event that would bring together representatives from all of the major campaigns this December," Boutillier said.

Filibuster's organizers said their political journal will provide a forum for students on both sides of the aisle to express themselves.

"The journal will fulfill an unmet need and provide a central political forum for students," Vitale said.

The magazine plans to publish its second issue by the end of this semester, said the senior political and organizational communication major.

Students said the new organizations will inspire political debate on campus.

"We should listen to what the other side has to say, especially if they're brave enough to speak up in this liberal college town," said sophomore Claire Johnson, a broadcast journalism major.

Hurst said he came to Emerson to try to spark political debate, although, so far, the communication has only existed in the form of wise cracks on the dry-erase on his door.

"Emerson Democrats say they want to get the word out about their values," he said. "You have to admit, the word is out at Emerson. I want to get the word out about conservative values; I don't want us to have to hide in the shadows anymore."