Bhargav Arimilli
Mercury Staff
College Republicans
Courtesy

Organization looks to interact with other groups during election year

A new organization called College Republicans, is making a place for conservative students on campus.

Christian Sweeney, a political science major and a founder of the group, said he wanted the club to be a focal point of conservative thought on campus.

“I hope it serves as a hub for conservatives to talk, hang out with each other and share ideas,” he said.

Erick Bruno, a former Marine Corps recruiter and the current head of public relations for the club, said he was compelled to help start College Republicans to leave a legacy.

“There hasn’t been an active Republican group in a long time and I wanted to leave a mark behind,” he said. “I’m a political science major and a political junkie, so I figured, ‘Hey, why not do something I’m passionate about?’”

Sweeney said another reason for creating the club was to challenge the notion of UTD as a predominantly liberal campus among Texas universities.

“The real reason I started this club is because I know many Republican or conservative friends who just don’t feel like talking in class because they feel like they’re going to get laughed at or ignored,” he said.

Bruno, who was also involved with organizing the Campus Carry town hall meetings, shared similar sentiments.

“I think most of the professors here try to be non-partisan. I think younger students here tend to identify with Democrats or liberal ideology,” he said. “It’s important for me to challenge (that) and talk about it so that they’re not always in lockstep.”

The club is still in the recruitment phase but will have completed all prerequisites for becoming an official UTD organization by the end of the month. Bruno said he plans to host recruiting events on campus and utilize Facebook and Twitter to increase the club’s visibility and boost recruitment.

Even though the club has not yet commenced full operations, other organizations have already reached out to College Republicans. Student Government has discussed the possibility of hosting a debate between College Republicans and College Democrats. In addition, the two organizations will co-host a voter drive before and after the debate to register more voters for the upcoming election.

The 2016 election is a significant event for College Republicans, Bruno said, and the club plans to host debate-watching parties leading up to the Republican primary.

“It’s a very interesting election cycle because there’s a lot of pushback against establishment — anyone who’s a Washington insider,” Bruno said. “That’s why I think people are looking more towards non-traditional politicians such as Trump, Sanders and Cruz.”

Sweeney said College Republicans aims to make itself a resource for GOP supporters in the Dallas area and has already been successful in this endeavor.

“The Marco Rubio campaign asked us if we could volunteer at a rally in Dallas,” he said. “These (are) the opportunities that members could expect to get information about in order to participate in Republican Party politics.”

Looking beyond the election, the group said it wants to introduce its members to opportunities at the local and national levels as well.

“I hope College Republicans (becomes) a resource for information about local opportunities like volunteering or internships, connecting them to local politics,” said Sweeney. “That’s where you start — you start local.”