College Republicans see increase in membership
Members of the Fairleigh Dickinson University College Republicans Club has increased this semester, and the group’s president attributes the rise to the November 2016 election of Donald Trump.
Jonathan Daverso, the club president, founded FDU College Republicans in the fall of 2015. He said that when he came to FDU, he did not see a platform for students to express themselves politically.
“I wanted to make sure that students can talk to like-minded people because sometimes they might want to keep their beliefs to themselves,” said Daverso. “The main goal of the club is to give people the chance to talk about the political issues, especially because people find that on campus it might be hard to bring up conservative views in class for fear of repercussions from professors or other students.”
The club’s vice president, Nick Quintero, said another reason that the number of members has increased this year is because the club is more prevalent on campus, hosting weekly meetings in order to build its reputation in the community.
“I think when we started the semester we had some members that weren’t active, and now we’ve had about 30 people on the membership roll because of posters and the club fair,” Daverso said recently.
However, the club has at times struggled to become more well-known on campus. According to Quintero and Daverso, the club’s promotional posters have been placed in several campus buildings, but are consistently torn down.
“We’ve replaced most of them, but they keep getting torn down. However, we still grew in members because election reactions sparked more interest for students in getting together and supporting Trump,” said Daverso.
This year, the club has expanded its presence in debates on the Florham Campus. Daverso said that the club has specifically discussed such topics as illegal immigration, foreign policy, globalism and the election.
Quintero said that it is important to give students the opportunity to express their viewpoints, regardless of which political party they belong to.
“One of the main goals of the club is to establish a conservative viewpoint on campus that gives people a discussion with others who agree or are on the same side as you,” said Quintero.
Daverso said that the club also gives students internship opportunities.
“Almost every declared candidate for [New Jersey] governor on the Republican side is looking for students to intern with them, so it’s a great place to start if this is what you are interested in,” he said.
Club member Nicholas Bongiovanni said that joining the club was important to him because he enjoys engaging in conversation with people who share the same views.
“It’s great that this club exists on this campus and is slowly gaining members, especially in this time where free speech is being restricted from conservatives, especially on college campuses,” he said.
Daverso, who will study at Wroxton College next year, is trying to engage the organization with other clubs on campus that are willing to have debates.
“I want to leave the club at a point where it can continue to grow without myself and the founders of the club, and that it can still get involved with college-aged Republicans, and give members more opportunities,” said Daverso.
He added that the College Republicans would look to “debate with clubs that have Democratic views.”
Both Daverso and Quintero said they encourage interested students to come to a club meeting, even if they are not members of the Republican Party.
“I would say for people who are not of a conservative mindset to come check us out. We’re not afraid to have conversations or discussions with people that disagree with us,” said Quintero.
The FDU College Republicans Club meets every Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Room 118 of the Monninger Center.
Editor’s Note: The newlyformed FDU Democrats held an interest meeting last week. The Pillar will run an article about that club in a future issue.