New UMN student group launches Trump re-election efforts

The Collegiate Group for Trump aims to establish itself on the University campus.

Emily Hansen watches a re-election campaign video for President Trump with other students at the end of a meeting put on by The Collegiate Group for Trump in Coffman Union on Tuesday, Jan. 21. 

Andy Kosier

Emily Hansen watches a re-election campaign video for President Trump with other students at the end of a meeting put on by The Collegiate Group for Trump in Coffman Union on Tuesday, Jan. 21. 

by Jasmine Snow

Hoping to establish a presence on the University of Minnesota, The Collegiate Group for Trump marked its first semester on campus at a kick-off event Tuesday. 

The Collegiate Group for Trump will campaign for President Donald Trump this semester, aiming to set itself apart from other conservative groups with “actionable items,” said group president Blake Paulson. Members say they will do this through active re-election campaigning, such as phone calls, voter registration and volunteer recruitment. 

“We are really focused on the election and doing some of those tangible items,” Paulson said. “Calling people to do things outside of the regular meetings and asking them to commit to a little bit more. Just doing things that really do make a difference in getting the president elected.”

Before registering as an official student group this semester, members focused on organizing and recruitment.

Tuesday’s event allowed prospective members to get to know the officers and focused on voter registration, the group’s first initiative. The kick-off also featured guest speaker former Minnesota congressman and Senate candidate Jason Lewis.

The Collegiate Group for Trump aims to provide a space for other conservatives to feel more comfortable voicing their beliefs, officers said. 

Several group members said their experience as Trump-supporting conservatives on campus has been unwelcoming.

“The first time I approach [student Trump supporters], they’re kind of hesitant,” Paulson said. 

Officer Susan Esbe said she felt compelled to keep The Collegiate Group for Trump Facebook group private due to members’ concerns over such public association. 

“I have a lot of friends who are conservative, so I wanted to add them to the group, and the first thing they asked me was, ‘Are people going to be able to see that I’m in this group?’” she said. “I know that they’re concerned about backlash from their friends and their family.”

Paulson also said conservative students are often reluctant to be open about their views around more left-leaning peers, fearing backlash. He recalled first speaking with Esbe about her views. 

“We were in a class together, and we were talking. I asked her where she was on the political spectrum and she said, ‘Oh, well, I’m pretty moderate,’” he said. “Then I said that I was a really strong supporter of the president, and she said, ‘Oh, really? Me too, but I wasn’t sure if I should say that or not.’”

Members from the group said they want to open a discourse with those who may disagree with them.

“I just wish that people would be more open to other ideas,” said officer Chase Christopherson. 

The group will continue to hold regular meetings Monday evenings in Bruininks Hall.