College Republicans encourages open debate, civic participation

The College Republicans meet Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. in the Kirby Hall of Civil Rights. (Photo courtesy of College Republicans on OurCampus)

The College Republicans meet Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. in the Kirby Hall of Civil Rights. (Photo courtesy of College Republicans on OurCampus)

The College Republicans are notorious in the newsroom for their elusiveness. Now, under the leadership of new president Dimitri Chernozhukov ‘25, the group is opening its doors to the greater Lafayette community. 

“I do think it’s important to sort of engage with the larger campus community as a whole,” Chernozhukov said. 

During club meetings, Chernozhukov uses articles from news aggregator websites to lead discussions. These websites compile content from various sources and offer multiple stances on current events.

“Having current events discussion is just good because even if you’re not super political and whatnot, it’s good to assess this stuff. That’s what the partisan clubs provide,” he said. 

While club members fall into the same party, discussions often bring out differences.

“It’s a place for more right-leaning people to sort of just talk about what’s going on in the world,” Chernozhukov said. “I really do think that’s important, because even within the Republican Party there are a lot of different opinions on various issues so it’s definitely good to have all sorts of conversations.”

This semester, the group will be focusing their time and resources on the midterm elections taking place on Nov. 8. 

“It’s a good avenue to get involved in midterm elections if you’re interested in that. We will be doing phone banking events. If you don’t want to be an actual intern, because that can be a long commitment, participate in phone banking, candidate canvassing, door-knocking,” he said. 

The club will be collaborating with the other political clubs and groups on campus, including Lafayette Votes!, to promote voter registration. Additionally, this past week the College Republicans and the College Democrats held a joint 9/11 memorial event.

“Really engaging in integrating ourselves into the campus community as a whole is what I would say is really important for me this year,” he said. 

Chernozhukov believes that people who are interested in dipping their toes into Lafayette’s political community should start with a partisan club. 

“I feel like people who are more apprehensive would prefer either of the partisan clubs just because it’s a good place to find people who have really similar opinions as you,” he said. “The big appeal of [the partisan clubs is] you don’t have to be worried about people judging you too much.”

As vice president of the Bipartisan Coalition, Chernozhukov has firsthand knowledge of the disparities between the partisan and bipartisan clubs on campus.

“The big difference is we’re sort of running these meetings with very different things. The bipartisan coalition is really focused on lobbying stuff, as opposed to the College Republicans, also the College Dems. Both clubs, there’s a lot more discussion of what’s going on in the world. And those are two different goals,” he said.

For students interested in becoming involved in politics beyond the partisan clubs, Chernozhukov recommends the Bipartisan Coalition

“The big thing that we have right now is the Bipartisan Coalition. That’s a bipartisan lobbying club. So we’re going to be focusing on contacting members of Congress. We do have a possible D.C. trip in the works to meet with members of Congress,” he said. 

While the partisan clubs on campus are largely discussion-based, the Bipartisan Coalition focuses on finding legislation that provides a bipartisan solution to big issues and lobbying it to Congress. 

“[The Bipartisan Coalition is] narrowly focused on these bipartisan issues like drug prices, conservation legislation, housing affordability [and] opioid crisis stuff … Even in Congress, there’s actually a lot of legislation going through that is bipartisan for addressing those [issues].”

Regardless of where they fall politically, Chernozhukov encourages students to participate.

“Getting involved in politics and being conscious of it is your civic duty,” he said. “[It’s] your government, you should know what’s going on, on a basic level.”

To get involved with the College Republicans, contact Chernozhukov at [email protected]