College Republicans gain membership

Breanne George

Conservative students at Kent State are making their presence known on campus.

The Kent State College Republicans currently have more than 100 members on their listserv and 25 active members.

Matt White, president of the College Republicans, believes the increase in conservatism has a lot to do with the way the conservative message is being sent to students.

“We express our beliefs in a reasonable and coherent manner,” White said. “We don’t force our message down people’s throats.”

The organization experienced an increase in members recently, especially during the last presidential election. White said their listserv grew to 150 members during the election with more than 100 people attending weekly meetings.

“There is always a peak of interest during an election,” White said. “Last year, our membership was the highest it had ever been.”

Neal Casper, member of the College Republicans, is one of five students who started a Caucus for Conservative Action chapter at Kent State.

“It’s a grassroots activist group,” he said. “The goal is to get more Republican students involved, especially in helping to increase block voting during elections.”

Currently there are 182 student members on the Caucus for Conservative Action Facebook group.

“I started the Facebook group to see if students would be interested,” Casper said. “We have gotten a great response with a lot of support from students.”

Although the Kent State campus is mostly liberal, Casper said he meets more and more students who are self-proclaimed conservatives.

“I see people getting fed up with hearing liberalism,” he said. “I want to see more Republicans going on the offensive by speaking out, writing articles and developing a greater presence on campus.”

Conservative Kent State Facebook groups are increasing in number. Groups such as “All Republicans, all the Time,” “Bush won again.Stop Bitching” and “Love ya Dub’ya” are helping conservative students connect on campus.

“These groups weren’t started by College Republicans, just conservative Kent State students,” White said. “If you look at the numbers, these groups definitely represent a trend.”

Political Science Professor Thomas Hensley said he has noticed an increase in conservative students on the Kent State campus.

“My impression is, for the most part, student political attitudes at Kent State mirror the adult population,” he said.

Hensley, who was a faculty member at Kent State during the May 4 shootings in 1970, said college students during the Vietnam War era were extremely liberal.

“Conservatism was shunned during that time,” he said. “It was considered not cool to be conservative.”

White believes that students today believe in values their parents’ generation wasn’t interested in.

“There was more liberalism back then, especially on this campus,” he said. “The conservative argument wasn’t getting out there.”

Hensley said both students and faculty expressed their liberal perspective inside and outside the classroom.

“You would see faculty protesting the war along side students,” he said “If that doesn’t send a message, I don’t know what does.”

Hensley said there is less activism by professors today, as more professors recognize an obligation to present both sides.

“There is becoming an even division,” he said. “Strong liberalism is a smaller percentage of the population.”

Senior English major Jackie Stuart, a self-proclaimed Democrat, said she thinks liberalism is not as popular today as more students choose to not take a strong political stance.

“I think a lot of students today don’t know enough about what’s going on in order to feel they should do something about it,” she said. “They think, ‘Why should I stand for something I don’t know if I believe in?'”

White agrees that the nation as a whole is moderate, which has changed since previous generations.

“The College Republicans are open to people of moderate beliefs,” he said. “You don’t have to be a hard-run conservative.”

A majority of Kent State professors are liberal and often make their political views known in their classes, White said.

“I’ve had science classes where the professor brings up liberalism,” he said. “Professors express their beliefs everywhere, not just political science classes.”

Casper said he believes this is causing many college students to question what they are learning.

“People are waking up and saying ‘I want to explore different views,'” Casper said. “College is all about experiencing different perspectives.”

Contact student politics reporter Breanne George at [email protected]