Campus newspapers are starting to take a deeper look at one oft-ignored marginalized group on their campuses: Republicans.
The Daily Emerald has a rich feature on the University of Oregon’s College Republicans chapter, which has actually grown since Donald Trump’s election but does not fit the stereotype frequently deployed by leftists against campus Republicans. This is how you start a feature:
Students trickle into an empty classroom and shed their jackets, revealing their T-shirts. One shows a rainbow campaign logo stating “Make America great and Gay again,” and others walk in wearing bright red Make America Great Again hats. Many compliment their friends’ regalia as it is uncloaked, and a few mention how grateful they were to cross campus without being insulted or having a confrontation.
Their members include “students of color, international students and members of the LGBTQIA+ community,” yet they are frequently labeled “white supremacists and fascists”:
According to a four-year study from the UO Office of Institutional Research … only 44.5 percent of polled conservative students feel their political beliefs are respected on campus, making 2016 the lowest percentage in the four-year span. In comparison, 92.8 percent of liberals polled feel that their beliefs are respected on campus.
They have diverse views and don’t fall into lockstop with every conventional Republican position. Chairman Justin Myhre told the Daily that without its LGBT, nonwhite and international members, “we’d just be a bunch of white people, and that’s not the face that I want for the Republican Party in the future.”
Unlike gay or nonwhite leftists at the U of O, these Republicans face threats and insults whenever they publicly identify as Republicans. Trent Capurro is the group’s recruitment director, and he’s Middle Eastern but often called a “white supremacist”:
Capurro tables for the group outside of the EMU on Wednesdays and Thursdays, fully clad in his Trump regalia. He also keeps a list of the types of harassment he receives.
“Sometimes they’ll give me a middle finger, sometimes they’ll take a picture and then give me a middle finger, sometimes they’ll call me things like fascist, a-hole, they’ll say f-you,” he said, pulling up a Word document with tallies for each category.
“People have said to us out of nowhere, without even asking our opinions … to drop dead,” Capurro said.
One of those international members of the CRs, Vietnamese student Khang Ngo, said the ongoing criticism against his affiliation has made him a more critical thinker:
“They’re assuming that because I’m a minority, I have to think in a certain way, which is not true,” Ngo said. “It’s probably the most racist thing to assume that just because you’re a minority you have to vote for a Democrat.”
They are even considering putting forward their own right-leaning slate for student government. Ngo says he plans to stay in Oregon after graduation to “see this state turn red again”:
People call me a fool for saying that, but Generation Z is projected to be the most conservative generation since World War II, so I have hope for the future.