This post was written by reporters Roy Al Khechen and Meredith Roaten.
Like the political pundits and journalists on the TV screens they were watching, members of the GW College Republicans were surprised as everyone else when Republican nominee Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election.
The College Republicans stayed neutral this election cycle on the Republican nominee because some members supported Trump, while others did not. Members, regardless of who they were supporting Trump, gathered in the City View room in the Elliott School of International Affairs to watch results roll in.
The Republican attendees, in formal wear per the event’s dress code, stood around the projector anxiously at the beginning of the evening. The room was decorated with Trump-Pence campaign posters and life-size cutouts of presidents George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Trump. American flags adorned the walls above the buffet and miniature versions of flags were used as centerpieces for tables.
Allison Coukos, the organization’s director of public relations, said the goal of the event was to make all members, regardless of the candidates they supported, feel welcome. Membership was split about 50-50 on Trump, which was why the College Republicans decided to formally not take a stance on the candidate, she said.
“There are people supporting the ticket because they love Trump, people supporting the ticket because they love Pence, there are people writing in Evan McMullin,” Coukos said. “You definitely see that difference in our membership, and we want to make sure everyone is included.”
Coukos said that after the election, the GW College Republicans hope to reunite party members on campus.
“Looking forward, we want students on this campus to know that whether you endorse Trump or not, if you stand for conservative values such free enterprise, limited government and a strong national defense, then you’re a Republican and we want you here,” Coukos said.
Tom Crean, a member of the College Republicans who recently appeared on CNN endorsing Trump, said he thinks people will get over the results quickly and that they will start working together.
“It’s a relief that it’s over because our country can begin to unify, regardless of who’s elected,” Crean said.
Attendees were shocked as the Republican nominee won states like Florida and North Carolina, giving him an electoral lead against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Aimee Triana said that she hadn’t expected the race to be as close as it was.
“The last two elections I remember I kind of knew what the outcome was gonna be, but this is one where if you asked me to predict it, I’d be like ‘I don’t know,’” Triana said.
Tim Shim, a senior, said coming into the election cycle, he wasn’t a very big fan of Trump and that he was surprised to see the election go in his favor.
“I came in with expectations that Hillary had a very good chance of winning and I think seeing Florida go to Trump was shocking,” Shim said.
As the nominee neared 250 electoral votes, the College Republicans received news that the event would be end at midnight, despite their claims that they had booked the room until 1 a.m. Members took to social media to voice their grievances in an attempt to keep the venue for another hour.
— Hunter Wilson (@Hunter_N_Wilson) November 9, 2016
Though they spoke with Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski over the phone twice, they still had to pack up their cardboard cutout collection and relocate to the District House basement.
The group didn’t run to the White House in recognition of their party nominee’s win as per GW tradition after leaders of the College Republicans warned members not to do so out of safety concerns or to crash the GW Democrats’ watch party, as some attendees had suggested.