UB College Republicans offer students opportunity for political discussion
Alexis Ogra felt that her right-leaning opinion didn’t matter when a professor in the English department asked her class to write a response on why Ted Cruz and other Republicans “don’t understand science.”
Although Ogra, a sophomore history major and president of the Buffalo chapter of the New York Federation of College Republicans, didn’t identify as a Cruz supporter she was shocked by the professor’s blatant exemplification of political bias as an employee of a public institution.
“It was very hard for me to come to class,” Ogra said. “I’m not a Ted Cruz supporter but I am still a Republican and that was offensive to me as a student.”
Political conversation in the classroom is a slippery slope and the possibility of offending someone can be relatively high. There are students on campus who want to voice their political opinions on current event issues plaguing the United States without feeling like they are being targeted or judged for what they believe.
Organizations like UB College Republicans aim to create an environment where open discussions about the nations issues allow politically active students and non-political students alike to learn more about problems facing this country.
“When we’ve gone to our statewide and nationwide events we meet with students that feel that their voices have been suppressed on campus,” Ogra said.
Ogra believes that college students should be allowed to speak their minds.
A group like College Republicans is just one forum on campus that allows students to do just that – voice their opinions, learn more about the party and meet other Republicans.
“Schools tend to be a little bit more liberal in terms of the administration and faculty so I think liberal students have an easier time discussing their views,” said Reed Tighe, a junior political science major and treasurer of College Republicans. “But conservative students who strongly believe in their views might be less inclined to state their opinion because they are outnumbered,” said
Tighe said that attending a liberal institution does tend to silence kids who don’t agree with liberal points of view but College Republicans is opening to promoting all kinds of conversation about what stance the country should take on various topics.
Erica Lutz, a junior communication and political science and major and vice president of the club, feels that College Republicans is perfect for sharing her views.
“For me, in a leadership position, it’s a great way to bring attention to issues that students aren’t fully aware of,” Lutz said. “Before I was elected VP, the club was a great place for me to feel accepted for my conservative views because I felt like my views may be drowned out on a ‘liberal campus.’”
With the presidential election happening on Nov. 8, political dialogues are buzzing all around campus in classrooms and clubs alike.
College Republicans meet every Monday to discuss politics.
“The biggest way that we promote the Republican Party is just by being very welcoming to everyone,” Ogra said. “From week to week we have like a different crowd that is really great because it promotes open and new discussion.”
Weekly meetings are centered on specific political topics. This week’s topic focused on the environment and a fraction of the 30 active members spoke critically about climate change, climate refugees, nuclear fusion/fission and the role of free markets in resolving these problems.
Ogra said that the club wants to attract people who don’t know where their political alliances lie to come to meetings as well as UB College Democrats club meetings so that they can learn about both parties and what they stand for.
“This semester people seem to be a lot more interested, I guess with the election coming up,” Tighe said. “Its very important for people to vote so I volunteered and said ‘Hey, if anyone needs an absentee ballot let me know so I can get you the information you need to fill out.’”
Tighe also thinks that the meetings are helpful for people who don’t understand major issues or policies.
The UB Democrats and Republicans challenge the stereotype of negative feelings towards one another by having a healthy professional and social relationship amongst the members.
“College Democrats and Republicans on campus get along very well,” Ogra said. “[UB Republicans] share[s] an office with the UB Democrats. We go to each other’s meetings and plan events together. We are currently planning a banquet for all of the clubs in our office at the end of the year.”
Ogra said that College Republicans reach out to students on campus through social media devices like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. The club also uses flyers and has a banner hanging in the student union.
Although the club is heavily based in political debate, they don’t just sit around and talk politics. The club is also a breeding ground for social growth in and out of an academic setting.
Tomas Olivier is a features desk editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.