As the Gustavus Community, is often satisfied knowing that their opinions are heard. They feel assured that their freedom of thought is being protected and that they have the ability to be a part of groups that will listen to their viewpoints. But when their views are being violated, does it take a sour turn. This is exactly how the College Republicans felt when they left the Diversity Leadership Council. This event happened mainly because the College Republicans were disagreeing with much of the social justice activism that was happening within the council. They believed that their role in the group was not valued, nor was it aligning with the Council’s core values. One of these values was the support of the DLC to send a group of Gustavus students to the North Dakota Access Pipeline Protest in Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. This was something that The College Republicans did not support, as it used school activities’ money to fund the trip. They did not want to sign the petition to send students to protest the pipeline.
“As an organization we feel that it is not a school in MN’s job to meddle in the affairs of another state or its citizens. Especially since the large majority of the student body does not have any real connection to the events transpiring and therefore do not have a clear sense of what is actually going on. Therefore, we believe DLC’s involvement is irrelevant and unnecessary for this campus,” said the College Republicans.
Along with that, the College Republicans elaborated that there were more pros rather than cons with the pipeline, and that it was wrong for the DLC to convince President Bergman to use school funds to send the students on a trip, they believe, gives Gustavus a bad reputation.
Therefore, it was Cory Witt, the College Republicans’ DLC representative, who officially resigned the group from the Council. While the main reason why the group joined the DLC was to get funding, they were able to get funding from Student Senate.
Witt describes another event which caused them to leave, such as the bias incident during the 1st Presidential Debate that he believes the school completely disregarded by blaming the victim.
“As an organization we feel that it is not a school in MN’s job to meddle in the affairs of another state or its citizens. ” – College Republicans
“Another member of the organization brought up that support for a particular candidate in this year’s election shouldn’t be allowed on campus at all because his rhetoric is hate speech and that it offends her ethnic heritage. While they didn’t specify as to which candidate it was, it was clear which one they were mentioning. In their speech, they singled out our organization and the candidate running on behalf of our party and said that we shouldn’t be allowed to actively show support for him on campus,” said Witt.
Treasurer of the College Republicans, Nathaniel Kraft, shared his input about how the decision was made.
“There was unanimous consent with those who attended the meeting we held to discuss the situation as well as full support from our Executive Board and even some members who did not attend the meeting but expressed in private they were in support of the departure.”
Kraft mentions how the College Republicans will be moving forward from this situation.
“We are talking with Kenneth and setting up a meeting to discuss our position with DLC and we will move from there. We originally stayed and put up with it all, since we stand up for the idea of a place that allows diversity in all aspects. However, since our opinion wasn’t treated on equal standing or valid during the meetings it is clear that DLC does not actually feel the same or currently stands for that ideal. Ultimately, it is unlikely we will be missed by the larger group as many reps expressed how much they would rather the meetings be a constant echo chamber rather than a real discussion of opposing views,” Kraft said.
The Diversity Leadership Council presented their side of this issue the following statement, written by the PR Chair, Claire Dirnberger:
“The Gustavus Republicans presented their reasoning for leaving the Diversity Leadership Council as their mission no longer aligns with DLC’s growing focus on activism and they found funding elsewhere. We recognize that they are a unique voice in the political and social dialogue on this campus and although we are saddened by their absence, we respect their decision and hope that they reconsider rejoining DLC.”