College Republicans promote millenials' take on party's beliefs

Student political groups: passion for their party & encouraging discourse

The Spectrum

Minahil Khan, a sophomore communication and political science major, was 8 years old when her parents won the lottery for a green card to come to America. They opened a small Pakistani-Indian restaurant in Buffalo.

Six months later, the Sept. 11 attacks happened.

It was a trying period for Khan's family. Since then, her parents instilled in her the importance of being politically aware and encouraged her to always remember how hard they worked to put her through school.

Khan has been an active member of the UB College Republicans club since the start of the semester.

The club holds meetings every Monday at 8 p.m. and has 15 regular members, according to the club's president, senior political science major Alana Barricks. At their meetings, members engage in discussions that revolve around the chosen political topic of the month.

"Usually we have a theme," Barricks said. "Like for the month of October, it was 'local politics' because there's an election coming up on Nov. 5 and a lot of people don't even know [about it]."

The club also takes trips as a group and makes an annual excursion to the local gun range. Members also take part in debates with the UB College Democrats club during formally set-up events or at each other's meetings.

Eric Pacheio, a senior history major and treasurer of the UB College Republicans, believes such interactions allows for them to "value different argumentations."

"A couple of weeks ago, I went to one of [the UB College Democrats'] meetings and I ended up yelling, 'I love guns, I love America, I love drone strikes,'" Barricks said. "I just kept screaming all of these ridiculous things."

Barricks said most people expect the College Democrats and Republicans to hate each other, but the groups enjoy each other and value their interactions.

"We disagree on almost everything, but we have fun with it," Barricks said.

This year, Barricks started a "Tribute to the Troops" bake sale for the first time and hopes it will continue as an annual event. The club sold cookies on the anniversary of 9/11 and raised $158, all of which went to the Wounded Warrior Project, a service organization that renders help to wounded veterans following 9/11.

The club welcomes new members, and attendance at its meetings ranges from 10 to 30, according to Barricks. She said the club welcomes anyone at all because it gives more perspectives on current issues. Barricks said the group's ultimate goals are to "teach people more about the Republican Party" and raise political awareness.

Additionally, Pacheio hopes for the club to help change the Republican Party's image.

"A lot of people see Republicans as a bunch of old men pretending to run the world ... but not all of us have the same beliefs," Pacheio said.

He sees himself as a "liberalist Republican" who has a more fiscal sense for policies and is open-minded toward social issues like gay marriage and abortion rights. Both Barricks and Khan believe they owe their knowledge of Republican ideology and general political awareness to being members of UB College Republicans.

"Going into this club, I did not know anything about politics and party politics and everything, but [the older members] never treated me like I needed to," Barricks said. "They would explain issues to me really well, and that's what made me love the club."

Khan used to be "unsure" about political ideology but since she started attending UB College Republican meetings, she managed to establish herself as a "moderate Republican."

Pacheio describes their weekly meetings as exciting because they never know who or what to expect. The club also makes full use of their networking opportunities by meeting new people outside of UB through their involvement in the local political scene.

"After I graduate, I already know with whom I need to talk to about getting a job," Barricks said. "I'm very confident that I can get a job in politics right away and I don't think that would have happened without my club."

She thinks the club has yet to totally reach its goal of raising political awareness among students, however, and it is an ongoing mission. She said the goal would only have been achieved if every UB student had taken part in the mayoral election on Tuesday.