Melissa Holzberg: College Republicans need to take a stand on Trump

The GW College Republicans seem confused. If you scroll through the group’s Facebook page, you’ll find pro-Donald Trump posts by the dozens. In between those posts, you’ll see some negative posts about Hillary Clinton. But confusingly, one of the most recent posts is an official statement from the College Republicans that they will not take a definitive stance on endorsing Donald Trump.

I’m a registered Republican. And while I’ve spent much of this election year wondering if party politics is even for me, the College Republicans organization on campus should still represent registered Republicans like me. Just as the Republican National Committee represents all registered Republicans, College Republicans on every campus represent students who choose to register for the party. I, and every other registered voter on this campus, deserves to know where our College Republicans stand as an organization.

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo
Melissa Holzberg

The College Republicans is a political organization that chooses to support, or not support, their party’s national nominee for president every presidential election year. Just because this year the Republican Party nominated a controversial candidate does not mean College Republicans at GW can sit this election year out. Before Nov. 8, College Republicans should decide to endorse or not endorse Trump.

The issue with the group not choosing whether or not to support Trump has little to do with the candidate’s policies or rhetoric. By choosing to sit on the sidelines of a presidential election, the College Republicans are abdicating their role as a partisan organization. In politics, you have to choose sides.

Unfortunately, the decision to not take a definitive stance in this presidential election wasn’t made by the entire chapter. The College Republicans’ public relations chair, Allison Coukos, and the College Republicans executive board made the decision alone. Members of the organization should object to the executive board’s decision and call for a chapter-wide vote — a procedure written out in the organization’s bylaws.

If College Republicans feel they do not have enough support within their organization to endorse Trump for president, then, quite simply, they shouldn’t endorse him. But that’s not what the organization has done. Instead, they have issued implicit endorsements by posting photos of the “Make America Great Again” slogan, while also trying to act like the group provides an open forum on campus for any Republican student. Coukos, on the other hand, doesn’t think that these pro-Trump posts endorse him as a candidate.

“These posts are just another viewpoint within our membership that we choose to highlight on our social media,” Coukos said.

But what you post on social media has meaning. And flip-flopping between what an organization’s official opinion is has meaning.

Of course, College Republicans at GW isn’t the only group in the country facing difficulties in the endorsement process. The College Republicans at Pennsylvania State University made a tough choice: When faced with a Trump-shaped elephant in the room, they did not endorse him. Similarly, College Republicans at Harvard University didn’t endorse Trump and issued a statement specifically saying why they couldn’t endorse him. Conversely, College Republicans at the University of Notre Dame and Yale University support Trump. And in an even more defiant endorsement decision, Cornell University College Republicans favor Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

Whether or not I or other Republican students agree with these chapters’ decisions is moot. At least students at these schools took a stand: They didn’t stop taking sides when things got controversial within the party. If an organization believes in a nominee, they should say so. If the members cannot come to a majority opinion, the organization shouldn’t endorse the candidate. However, GW’s College Republicans refusing to make one of these choices shows an unwillingness to lead their party on campus.

In just about two months, students will run out of their residence halls and storm the White House on election night. But until that day, students on campus will engage in debates over which candidate is best to lead our country. And it’s a shame that the second largest political group on campus has decided to stay quiet.

Melissa Holzberg, a junior majoring in political communication, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor. Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.

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