As the students behind UCSB for Bernie continue to support leftist policies and sentiments, the UCSB College Republicans remain steadfast in their freedom to defy demographics.
While the previously covered UCSB for Bernie campaign boasts a public adoration for Sanders and the general elevation of political efficacy on campus, UCSB College Republicans are taking a quieter approach this campaign season, so far tabling minimally within the first two weeks of fall quarter.
Daniel Reardon, a third year physics and psychology double major and UCSB College Republicans president, says that the lack of public bravado behind any one particular candidate is a symptom of both the College Republicans’ mission as a non-campaign affiliated political group and the varied landscape of opinion among the group’s 30-35 members.
“We do seek to inspire political efficacy on campus,” Reardon said in response to the widespread activism within UCSB for Bernie, “though for us that doesn’t include campaigning for any single candidate because of the real plurality within our group, with Cruz, Rubio, Bush and a few Trump supporters among us.”
The UCSB College Republicans instead act as a resource and refuge for the more conservative-minded students on campus. Their meetings, held every Tuesday, are spaces in which conservatives of all party affiliations join together to discuss policy implementation and other hot topics of the week — the more recent ones include the refugee crisis and Barack Obama’s final State of the Union Address.
“Our meetings are open to any and all who are interested,” Reardon said. “We may be the minority now, but I think there would be more conservatives if people were exposed to it more.”
With an organization-wide mission to spread conservative values and better inform students of political matters in general, UCSB College Republicans has hosted debates with their sister organization, UCSB Campus Democrats, in the past and plans to hold another in the next several weeks as the primary race begins.
They also boast an impressive history of guest speakers, including political commentator and writer S. E. Cupp and conservative author Dinesh D’Souza. This year’s tentative speaker is the up-and-coming right wing journalist and Breitbart technical editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, a British conservative commentator whose rhetoric on all things feminist, leftist and otherwise has garnered him a following among right-wing believers.
However, Reardon and his fellow members of College Republicans are of a more neutral strain, not out there to offend or even to persuade.
“Being a part of a liberal campus is actually not something we mind at all,” Reardon said. “We’re never bored. There’s definitely always someone to debate with. To me, as a conservative, being liberal is not the worst thing. It’s a good thing that we have varied opinions on this campus.”
Amidst the upcoming presidential primaries, UCSB College Republicans is looking forward to a year of debates, political awareness and in-depth discussion, indeed holding their own in the sea of Bernie pins and posters that line the Arbor.
And although Reardon admits to being one of the last to adorn himself in Sanders campaign attire, he tipped his hat all the same to the Bernie campaign.
“Though none of us necessarily agree with the views of Bernie supporters on campus, I will admit that their effort is very admirable.”