Republicans Club: A New Safe Space for Conservatives
With the start of a new semester comes new clubs at Packer. But what happens when a new club brings controversy to the community, adding to the turbulence of a rocky year? Every Day 3 during Community Time in A414, a group of students gather to attend Packer Republicans. Formed by Will Stewart (‘17) and Ian Russell (‘17), this club promotes the political minorities of Packer.
“Everyone should be allowed to create their own clubs,” said Sam Tecotzky (‘18). “I guess it’s not something I would end up going to, [but] I think a lot of people are concerned about the fact certain political voices weren’t really being heard.”
Since the beginning of the presidential election, there have been a lot of debates within the Packer community, mostly concerning the then president elect, Trump, those who supported him within the community, and those who held a more conservative view but did not support him.
Now with a new President who doesn’t reflect the majority at Packer, many students feel their needs to be a space for them to voice their opinions without feeling attacked.
“We’ve been having a lot of political discussions that I feel are really meaningful, but I didn’t feel like there was a place to have them,” said club leader, Will Stewart (‘17). “Most of them were done in the student center, and also I thought that the atmosphere around it was really hostile. I kind of saw this club as a place where people who didn’t agree with the majority opinion could speak freely because what I found was there was a lot more people who are interested in politics and the issues than I realized, there were also a lot more Republicans at Packer than I realized.”
While the club is notably meant for Republicans, the club is open for all students regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum. And students who don’t fall on the conservative side of the spectrum indeed do attend.
“I don’t think there are true Democrats or Republicans anymore, it’s just those are the names we put on it,” said Robert Vitali (‘17). “ I think everyone has their own opinions on certain topics that they lean one way or the other.”
Although Packer students promote keeping an open mind, there are still some students who are hesitant of the intentions and purpose behind Packer Republicans.
“I think it makes for them a very single-minded view of what the Republican party and conservative views might be,” said Sam. “I also think, and I can be wrong, part of the reason the club was created was to sort of, almost not fight back in a sense, but it creates a certain divide, which is not great.”
Regardless, Packer Republicans will continue to meet and hope to have a lasting effect on the community after the two senior leaders graduate.
“There used to be [a Republican club] in the late 90’s and then it just never got renewed because obviously, Packer is just a very liberal school,” said Robert. “Everyone has their own opinions, and — especially if you’re at Packer and you’re a conservative you’re here and you’re in the community, so I don’t think there’s the type of hate that people may link to conservatives in general. So, I would just say be open-minded.”