They may be a minority, but they are attempting to make their voices heard.
All semester, Temple College Republicans has been working hard to get its message out across campus and in the city to help the campaign of Sen. John McCain.
Through debating on campus, campaigning off campus, hanging signs and making phone calls, members of College Republicans try to push past their minority status on campus to get their voices heard.
“To get our message out this year, the Temple College Republicans [members] have been volunteering heavily, not just in Philadelphia, but in the surrounding counties as well,” said Brian McGovern, president of College Republicans.
“I take any opportunity I can to speak with students or anyone else who is willing to listen,” the senior political science major added. “Direct dialogue is truly the best way to reach a person and put things into perspective.”
Joseph Koons, a junior finance major and secretary of the College Republicans, agrees with McGovern.
“I, with my fellow College Republicans, have helped with phone-banking and have volunteered at various political events,” he said. “We have also had information tables around campus, debated at forums and recruited new members at Temple Fest and Spring Fling.”
With the excitement surrounding the historic presidential election and for many experiencing their first time voting, McGovern said membership in the College Republicans has dramatically increased since last semester.
“When I first joined, every meeting included me and five other members,” he said. “Since becoming president of the group, our biggest problem at meetings often seems to be where we can find extra chairs to fit everyone in.”
“This semester we have seen an increase in membership,” finance major Bill Rennie said. “I have seen and talked to many Democrats that looked past Obama’s eloquence and rhetoric and actually recognize that his plans for the country will not help us.”
Last Wednesday during the College Republicans’ meeting, about 20 student Republicans exchanged campaigning experiences and other stories.
Robert Nix, the Republican candidate for State Senate 3rd District, spoke at the meeting. Nix, a graduate from the Beasley School of Law, emphasized the significance of offering Philadelphia residents a choice. Nix said 81 percent of the district is made of up registered Democrats.
“I’m running to set an example of what public service should be,” Nix said.
Students at the meeting grumbled in response to the statistic, suggesting Temple’s numbers were probably less favorable to their party.
The majority of students at Temple are registered Democrats, but members of the College Republicans said they do not let that discourage them. Many said despite sometimes feeling singled out, they do not hide their conservative beliefs and are encouraged to participate in open dialogue with more liberal students.
“Obviously, we are the political minority here on campus, but that is not a bad thing. It is just a challenge for us to share our beliefs with others,” said Rennie, who is the executive director of the organization.
“Being a Republican on Temple’s campus can be tough for some people. You often feel marginalized by the very vocal liberal majority,” McGovern said. “Temple is a good place for political discourse. I often find myself entrenched in deep discussions with students I barely know, defending my views and listening to theirs.”
“Temple students and faculty haven’t given me too much grief over my views. Their views might be very liberal, but they are generally open to political discourse,” Koons said.
McGovern said the liberal presence on campus is misleading.
“There are more Republicans on this campus than you’d think,” McGovern said. “After our debate with the College Democrats, I received numerous e-mails from total strangers saying that we changed their vote and knowing that just makes this whole thing seem even more worthwhile.”
Regardless of students’ political affiliations, the group encourages everyone to vote.
“While we did not have as vast a registration as the Democrats did, we do believe that everyone’s voice should be heard, no matter what candidate they support,” McGovern said. “The right to vote is one that many people throughout the world do not enjoy and would even die for. It’s not just a right, but also a responsibility.”
After the mayhem of the busy election season clears up, the College Republicans will be working with the Temple College Democrats to plan events and fundraise. After the election, the organization will host more outreach events and continue to recruit new members.
“After this election is over, look out for a lot of events being co-sponsored between the College Republicans and the College Democrats,” McGovern said. “[Elizabeth Hanson, president of the College Democrats], and I have been building a great relationship between our organizations over the past year, and I am proud to say that here at Temple we can set our differences aside, reach across the aisle and better our campus together. I wish that Congress would take a cue from us sometimes.”
Valerie Rubinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.