Opinion: An Inside Perspective: Nobody represents the Republican community
The College Republicans’ institutional malpractice
This article is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Eagle and its staff.
The most significant barrier to free and open discussion on American University’s campus is not an intolerant left or a vicious majority that refuses to accept or hear other points of view. Rather, it is the campus’ College Republicans chapter. It is beyond time for the truth to be told of the organization’s exclusive and nepotistic practices.
It has become a common punchline or retort at AU to remark on the club’s low membership and engagement at what is an overwhelmingly left-of-center campus. Do not be mistaken, though. That lack of attendance is additionally fueled by an abandonment of the right of center community that has overshadowed the organization for the past two years. There are more Republicans on campus not affiliated with the chapter than there are affiliated with it.
This is the result of several overbearing and suppressive practices that will remain intact for the foreseeable future. It is impossible to run for the executive board as an individual. Candidates are required to do so as a ticket. A practice that is so problematic it is explicitly banned by the George Washington University College Republicans. Further, attendance at 33 percent of the organization’s “membership meetings” — which is defined at the discretion of, you guessed it, the incumbent executive board — is required to vote. Those who have class, work or are uninterested in programming, whether it be too moderate, or too conservative, are systematically disenfranchised. It is also a rare occurrence for all the executive board members to even attend their own events.
Aside from that, within the last three years, the organization gutted its general membership’s ability to have a say in the organization’s endorsements. This happened after the chapter gained national attention by deferring to members regarding a 2016 Trump endorsement.
From a strictly organizational perspective, there is far less opportunity for general members to engage with policy issues that matter to them when compared to say, the American University College Democrats. The Executive Board has given itself the most important role in all decisions, including the club’s elections. AUSG’s Fall Programming Survey indicates that between 536 and 1,656 students on campus are Republicans. In the most recent College Republicans election, there were 13 eligible voters. Of the 13, eight served on the incumbent executive board. With the three graduating seniors, the ticket of the remaining four incumbents re-elected itself. Following that re-election, fitting with College Republicans tradition, the executive board made appointments of four individuals who were not even qualified to vote. Among those appointments was one freshman, when all freshmen the year prior were turned down automatically and told freshmen do not serve on the board. New executive board, same nepotism, new rules.
So, before you comment on the next College Republicans post or criticize the personnel of the executive board, remember you are taking shots at a straw man. The right of center community knows you are, and so do the College Republicans themselves.
Paul Relyea is a junior in the School of Public Affairs. He also serves as AUSG's Comptroller. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American University Student Government.