GW College Republicans set a model for other chapters

The College Republican National Committee has recognized its GW group as the best chapter in the country. The award, given annually to one of the group’s 1,500 nominees nationwide, was given to the organization in December and presented in January.

“George Washington University College Republicans outstandingly represent the three goals of the College Republican National Committee: to help elect Republicans, support the president’s agenda and prepare future leaders of the party,” said Paul Gourley, chairman of the College Republican National Committee.

“Last year GW clearly rose to the top,” Gourley said.

The CRs achieved the top status among fellow chapters nationwide through their activities and dedicated membership, said GW Chairman Jeffery Holth, a senior. This year the CRs had big-name guest speakers including former vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp and Virginia Sen. George Allen.

Perhaps the biggest event of the year is yet to come.

The group will be holding later this month what Holth described as the organization’s keynote speech of the year. Conservative political pundit Ann Coulter is scheduled to speak in the Marvin Center on Friday for the group.

“They send out a top-notch membership update, which keeps their chapter members active and aware,” Gourley said.

Another reason for the chapter’s praise has been its ability to engage students with opposing ideologies.

This semester the CRs held a viewing of “Confronting Iraq,” a documentary by Roger Arnoff that re-examines the Iraq war from a conservative perspective. These types of events bring out a mixed crowd of “not just College Republicans but liberals as well,” Holth said.

Some other CR chapters around the nation feel that being in D.C. might give the GW College Republicans access to more resources and more of an opportunity for recognition.

Gourley admits that the GW chapter has an advantage because of its location but said the GW CRs won the award because of the way they take advantage of their prime location.

“More so than any other D.C. chapter, the GW College Republicans take the fullest advantage of their locality,” Gourley said. “They are constantly bringing excellent speakers to campus and attending events across town.” On Monday, the group attended an event hosted by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist at the American Legion.

But GW CRs do not restrict themselves to Washington, D.C., either.

“Their activism is seen and heard not only on their campus, but throughout the greater D.C. area”, Gourley said.

Counter-protests and support rallies have been a cornerstone of GW CR activity. Last fall, when the CRNC organized a large-scale effort to support Doug Forrester’s campaign for New Jersey governor, GW College Republicans filled an entire bus to travel to the state. Forrester lost the election.

Holth said his group’s position at what is considered by most a traditionally liberal campus may be an asset to the organization.

“It’s possible to get lethargic in an environment that agrees with you,” Holth said.

Holth said GW may be “more conservative than people give it credit for” but agreed that more than anything, the student body is active in general.

Even the College Democrats praised the group’s efforts.

“They’ve been really organized and they’ve had a lot going on,” said sophomore Sarah Spooner, press relations director for the GW College Democrats.

Helen Cannaday-Saulny, assistant vice president of Student and Academic Support Services, said the CRs’ top chapter award is less an indication of the campus’ political leanings and more an indication of the success of one of the hundreds of student organizations on campus.

“For our campus it doesn’t say that the University has a conservative school of thought,” Saulny said. “I would say that it’s a great recognition for people who are in alignment with the Republican Party.”

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