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Students for Trump goes into hibernation, leaving campus chapters without direction

Crickets at CPAC

Students for Trump became a national phenomenon during the 2016 primary season as pre-existing campus conservative groups lined up behind the quixotic candidate’s GOP rivals.

Some student groups adamantly opposed the New York billionaire, while others lost members after they backed Donald Trump.

On one campus, leftist activists tried to shut down the first meeting of the nascent Students for Trump chapter.

Now months after their man blew up the primaries and unexpectedly swept into office, Students for Trump has gone into hibernation.

In contrast to Turning Point USA, College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom, all in full-fledged recruiting mode, Students for Trump’s national organization had no visible presence at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference – not even a booth.

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The chapters have largely disbanded or halted meetings, while members of some chapters have been absorbed by other conservative groups, various leaders told The College Fix. The national organization has largely stopped communicating with them.

Their only remaining public activity? Sharing information about their president on social media.

After such an explosive and validating victory, why have these student groups become unrecognizable? Why give up all their momentum after Nov. 8, and again after the inauguration?

‘Would have been nice to see a continuation’

“Students for Trump was a coalition of the Trump Campaign,” National Chairman Ryan Fournier told The Fix in an email.

“Its duties and obligations were to get President Trump elected,” he said. “At this point the ground movements were adopted into the College Republicans or other similar organizations. In 2020 the organization will be re-implemented if the President decided to run again.”

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Cleveland State University’s Students for Trump chapter has a representative story.

Most of its members went off to join the College Republicans and Turning Point chapters. Though its chapter continues to meet and go to relevant events in the Cleveland area, the members do this independently of the national organization, President Eric Magvas told The Fix.

In fact, there has been no communication from anyone at the national level. It “would have been nice to see a continuation” between election cycles, which could prove to be a major missed opportunity, according to Magvas.

West Virginia University’s Students for Trump chapter hasn’t held any events since the election. It ended up joining the campus College Republicans.

“Right now the organization is serving in an ancillary mode,” and it “will be active when the next election comes around,” Elizabeth Berecin, Students for Trump social media director for Texas, told The Fix when asked how it plans to capitalize on the Trump presidency.

Supporters of the president on campus could use some organizational backup, if their experience in North Carolina colleges is any indication.

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Students at the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State and Duke University told The News & Observer last week that their administrators and faculty have supported their right to advocate for Trump.

Rather, “the bulk of [the pushback against their views] has come from their classmates and peers,” including verbal slurs and vandalism of their property, reported Madison Iszler, a former Fix writer.

‘Get millennials involved’ – once the website launches

Fournier, the national chairman, told The Fix he is moving forward as executive director of an alternative project called Generation Onward.

Though the domain GenerationOnward.com was registered in late September, when Trump’s presidential prospects were looking bleak, its website has still not launched in full more than five months later.

“We are an organization founded by college activists who were very involved in the 2016 Presidential Election,” reads a box under the logo. “Our goal is to get millennials involved in politics, and prepare them for their future as an American.”

It invites visitors to provide their emails to receive “updates” and pledges that the official website “will launch shortly.”

In a box below that, the organization seeks donations from visitors who “feel that today’s millennials are misinformed.” They will be used for “advertising, political and networking events, and outreach,” with a particular focus on “how today’s politics and fiscal spending will affect our future.”

Generation Onward “will ensure the privilege and prosperity we were born into is not lost to a careless and uninformed generation,” it concludes.

Its Twitter feed has been more active, though it does not explain what Generation Onward itself is doing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The author is a member of the West Virginia University CRs.

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IMAGES: Students for Trump, Generation Onward screenshot

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About the Author
Kaitlynn Critchfield -- West Virginia University