College Republicans have a proud and active history

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “I have not cared a rap for my critics, for I knew that their talk was nonsense.” Today, I am writing to clear up some nonsense that criticized the College Republicans – a group I have led for the last two years and have been active in for four.

Marty Andrade’s Oct. 14 opinion piece, lambasting the College Republicans for propping up the Maroon and Gold Association as a stunt, is hardly accurate. Let the record reflect I am not involved with the Maroon and Gold Association, and the College Republicans is not behind the new group.

Andrade claims the Maroon and Gold Association is just an attempt for College Republicans to get free press. But seeing how the organization never affiliates itself with College Republicans in its materials or statements and vice versa, I don’t see how this can be the case.

Andrade is a member of the smaller, more radical conservative political group, the Campus Republicans. A sign of theirs reads “Angry, Judgmental and Proud of it.” If that is Andrade’s definition of the “on-campus warrior” he claims to be, so be it.

The College Republicans is the oldest, largest and most active collegiate political organization in the United States. It is recognized by the Minnesota Republican Party and the Republican National Committee as the sanctioned Republican organization on campus. On the other hand, Andrade’s splinter group has been around for less than four years, and a bake sale is the most noteworthy event I can recall them organizing. The difference is clear.

Andrade said College Republicans have “historically never been very active in politics on campus.” Tell that to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was an active College Republican in the early ’80s. So active, in fact, that he took over the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group. College Republicans have actively contacted and informed students about voter registration and provided absentee ballots to students in dorms. Last year, they organized and held a “Support Our Troops” rally at Coffman Union that drew hundreds of students and every local television station. To what skewed interpretation of “on campus” is Andrade referring?

The record of College Republican involvement in grass-roots organizing, electoral campaigns and party functions cannot be questioned, and the opportunities College Republicans offers to University students in these areas cannot be rivaled. I assume Andrade is accusing College Republicans of neglecting entities such as the Minnesota Student Association and the Student Services Fees Committee. Well, consider the following: Currently, College Republicans has seven of its members serving various roles in the Minnesota Student Association Forum. In the last two elections for MSA president, a College Republican has been on the ballot – and not to destroy and liquidate MSA as Andrade himself campaigned to do, but to reform and improve it.

Furthermore, two College Republicans members served on the fees committee last year and two the year before it. I have served as a subcommittee chairman in the fees process, alongside Andrade. As my voting record would show, he can’t say I wasn’t a principled conservative on the fees committee who counted him as an ally. Our involvement is hardly “apathetic,” as Andrade contends it is.

The College Republicans need not “make it appear that they do things,” as Andrade claims. In the nine weeks prior to the November elections, College Republicans at the University logged 100 volunteer hours every week for the Republican Party, for Pawlenty, for Sen. Norm Coleman and countless others. Coleman has said he would not be in the U.S. Senate if the Minnesota College Republicans had not been with him for the final hours of his campaign.

College Republicans believe, as Andrade believes, in electing Republicans to office, high and low. This includes re-electing President George W. Bush next fall. We will accomplish more for our president and party out in the field actually campaigning than we would in MSA Forum or on the fees committee. Andrade is free to criticize that strategy. But campaigning and supporting candidates has been and will remain a priority for the College Republicans.

I don’t question Andrade’s unabashed conservatism. But I wonder if he is familiar with Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” Unfortunately, it’s clear he isn’t. Or if he is, he chooses not to follow it out of spite. On a campus as large and arguably as liberal as ours, Republicans shouldn’t be wasting time and resources fighting one another. We should be fighting for our candidates and for our party while maintaining our voice in student government.

Tyler Richter is chairman of the College Republicans at the University. He welcomes comments at [email protected]