Issues like Obamacare, Ebola and unemployment might seem far away from BYU campus. However, these issues and more are studied and debated every week by the College Republicans in various locations on the BYU campus. All are welcome to attend. The BYU Republicans Facebook page advertises the locations of each week’s debate.
This group of politically active students shares ideas about principles of the Republican Party and brainstorms solutions for national problems.
The club faces real challenges despite working with a highly conservative campus population. Keeping a high, consistent turnout can be one of those challenges.
Michael Sean, a senior from Alpine studying political science, believes the club competes with activities like dating, other clubs and schoolwork.
On the national stage, one may believe the relationship between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is not healthy. From personal attacks to name calling, politics can be dirty.
But the relationship between the College Republicans and the College Democrats at BYU is different. The College Republicans and Democrats do not meet on a weekly basis, but they occasionally have joint activities and formal debates.
The College Republicans Club is not just an outlet for politically charged students. Club members attend speaking events, help with political campaigns and volunteer for service projects.
Matthew Bell, a senior from France studying political science, is president of the College Republicans. “We provide students with what they want; that is, great guest speakers, activities, outings and opportunities to get involved in the community,” Bell said. “The College Republicans are one of the most active clubs on campus.”
The club also provides opportunities to network and make connections with politicians. Sophomore Laura Boyer, a Centerville native studying political science and economics, met former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
National politics affect the College Republicans at BYU. Tea Party candidates have challenged established GOP politicians. According to Cameron Picker, a senior from Boise, Idaho, studying political science, the club “leans more towards the Tea Party.” He said Tea Party beliefs make things different, not necessarily good or bad.
Those who have different beliefs but who are interested in the College Republicans should not shy away from attending one of their meetings.
“Although most students that attend consider themselves conservative, we have welcomed everyone to our meetings and activities,” Bell said.
Some religious students may feel uncomfortable attending a political club. Sometimes heated debate and contention arise.
“The Republican platform fits very well with the LDS faith,” Bell said. “We invite people to wholesome activities that will never conflict with their views. We stand for life, family and God.”