New student org. bolsters GOP voice on campus

by Timothy Johnson / Beacon Correspondent • October 4, 2012

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Emerson Republicans hosted a viewing party for the Warren v. Brown debate.
Emerson Republicans hosted a viewing party for the Warren v. Brown debate.

On Sept. 24, Emerson Republicans had its first meeting of the year, where members discussed their major goals, including getting Student Government Association recognition, supporting Sen. Scott Brown’s reelection campaign and Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, and increasing political and social discourse on campus.

The group, now in its second semester, was founded last year by Paul Almeida, a sophomore political communication major, and currently consists of five to 10 regular members. The group’s aim, Almeida said, is to give a voice to Republicans, who represent a minority on campus. 

Prior to the groups start last spring, Almeida said there was no outlet at Emerson for Republicans or conservatives to voice their opinions. Before the recent inception of the group, several students had attempted to start Emerson Republicans in 2009. However, they graduated before the organization could get SGA recognition, according to Dr. Richard West, professor and faculty advisor.

In the spring of 2012, Almeida and other Republican students responded to an email sent by West looking for students to establish a Republican voice on campus.

“A college campus is the center for free discussion and political engagement — how can that be going on when only one party is politically represented?” West said.

Almeida said the organization has been busy during its short time on campus. Last year, it became a recognized chapter of the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans and has been involved with volunteering for Scott Brown’s campaign.

On campus, the group has held debate watching parties, voter registration drives, and  has co-hosted an event with Emerson Democrats. Last spring, both organizations held a bipartisan economic discussion panel, with each group bringing two speakers to the event. 

“We’re not here to speak against Democrats,” said Almeida. “We’re here to be a voice for Republicans and to open a dialogue. And the best way to open a dialogue is to be friendly and to work with the other party.”

Vice President of Emerson Democrats Abby Ledoux echoed Almeida’s sentiment regarding bipartisanship. 

“We definitely want to sponsor a spirit of cooperation and reaching across the aisle,” said the junior journalism major. “I think people seeing that they have options, that there’s other parties, will get people more involved in the process.”

West said he views advising the organization as a step forward in creating an environment on campus conducive to civil political discourse.

“I would like to see additional political identities represented on campus,” West said. “I’d like to see Emerson Greens, Emerson Libertarians, and other political identities represented at the table. And then, throw out there some of the difficult cultural questions we need to discuss.”

David Levine, a senior visual and media arts major and intern at the Emerson Students for Elizabeth Warren campaign, agreed with this sentiment. 

“It’s a big country, and there’s room for people to have different opinions, so it’s good that there’s another political presence on campus,” Levine said. “There should be more political parties on campus.”

According to Almeida, one of the main goals of the organization is to combat what he sees as stereotypes, myths, and unfair views held by members of the student body and faculty against the Republican party, a byproduct of under-representation of opposing political views on campus.

“Whenever politics come up in class, it’s definitely a one-sided conversation,” said Erin Chadwick, a sophomore visual and media arts major and treasurer for Emerson Republicans. “When it’s thirty other people and you’re the only one who thinks differently, your voice definitely gets pushed to the side.”