College Republicans return to the university

After a two-year hiatus, Carnegie Mellon’s College Republicans are back, campaigning and conducting voter registration drives alongside their Democratic counterparts.

“College Republicans disbanded two years ago after the interest for such an organization became too low,” said Vice President Chloe Perkins, a sophomore English and creative writing major. “With the election coming up though, it was much easier to reorganize.”

Perkins is quick to point out that there are more Republicans at Carnegie Mellon than most observers think — even more than most Republicans think.

“Thus far we have 84 members, and at the activities fair every one of them said they were the only Republican here,” Perkins said. “I run into people on campus all the time who are interested in our organization.”

While the College Republicans have nearly 100 members, the Carnegie Mellon chapter of Students for Barack Obama has nearly six times that number.

Both the College Republicans and the College Democrats (a separate organization from Students for Barack Obama) as well as Students for Barack Obama have been active on campus.

Over the weekend, the College Democrats and Students for Obama collaborated with other political groups of Pittsburgh in a massive event.

“[Sept. 20] was an event called ‘Steps for Change,’ which used the city’s legendary 780 stairwells as rallying points,” said Hannah Wendling, a senior English major and president of the College Democrats. “The goal was to have 1400 volunteers knock on 40,000 doors, speaking to Pittsburghers about the issues critical to our nation and our reasons for supporting for Senators Obama and Biden’s campaign for change.”

All three groups have also been extremely involved in a campaign to get students to register to vote, and the College Democrats and Republicans will come together for a voter registration event Oct. 3 in the University Center.

“The voter registration deadline is coming up soon — October 6 — so that will be the main focus in the next two weeks,” Wendling said.

The organizations have worked well together, Perkins said.

“They’ve always been very polite — when we were getting our flyers torn down and our chalk spit on, they made sure that it was no one in their organization and encouraged others to be mature about our presence on campus. They have the greatest respect for us and we for them.”

Starting next week, the College Republicans hope to run a table outside Doherty Hall and campaign for Republican candidate Sen. John McCain (R–Ariz.) and vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. They will also hold parties and watch the political debates on TV together.

Both Wendling and Perkins are seeing lots of excitement about this election.

Wendling finds it interesting that “a lot of people, especially college students, who have never voted before and never been interested in politics before are interested and energized this election. I think it is the combination of a strong candidate and the magnitude of the problems facing our country today. Students are recognizing how important this election is.”