The formerly defunct College Republicans group has returned to campus in the form of the Lawrence University Republicans. Beginning their meetings last month, the LU Republicans are under new leadership with numerous ideas for the future.
Sophomore Josh Graber, president of LU Republicans, said, “The biggest reason why we wanted to reorganize it was simply to have a forum where individuals with conservative values could come and share their ideas. We feel that a lot of individuals come into college with beliefs, but they don’t really have a basis or understanding of why they have those beliefs.”
Graber found that the organization was not as strong as it should have been in the past, and the group got into some politically incorrect concepts that ultimately led to low membership numbers.
The LU Republicans now have three main goals of educating individuals: building leaders for tomorrow, promoting leaders that are actively running and providing an open discussion forum.
Sophomore Chad Skaer, vice-president of LU Republicans, stressed education as an important tool that allows people to be more knowledgeable about their belief system. “We’d rather educate people so that you could ask them why they are a Republican, and they can say, ‘I’m for conservative fiscal policy,’ or other reasons like that,” said Skaer.
Despite Lawrence’s commonly known reputation as a rather liberal university, Graber has so far found the student body to be well-receptive of LU Republicans.
Their meetings are open to members of all political parties and, they have even had multiple Democrats attend. According to Graber, the Democrats have thoroughly enjoyed their meetings, despite getting into some rather heated debates.
“I think the biggest thing about our group is that we’re really looking to understand the political realm, the political ideals that are out there, and take those, have everybody who comes to our meetings learn something and understand we’re not trying to conform anybody,” said Graber. “We’re trying to simply create an environment that’s open to discussion and forum.”
Skaer also noted the importance of coexisting with other groups on campus, along with providing an open discussion forum for all viewpoints during their meeting.
“One of our biggest things is making sure that we support Republicans rather than tearing down other groups that might be on campus,” said Skaer.
Though the group is currently working on establishing themselves, they have already met with former Wisconsin Governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson and with current Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Graber noted Mitt Romney’s visit to campus as very important, especially for a school of Lawrence’s size. With Romney being the likely GOP candidate in the presidential election this fall, Graber saw his visit as having big momentum for Lawrence to become more involved in the political realm.
Still focusing on organizing throughout the rest of this term, the LU Republican leaders plan on meeting a few times over the summer in order to organize their goals for this fall. Skaer also noted that they plan on becoming more involved in the presidential campaign during the fall.
The Lawrence University Republicans currently meet on Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. in the Kraemer Room on the third floor of the campus center. Those interested in joining, or those with questions, can attend a meeting or email Graber or Skaer at their Lawrence email addresses.