My time at Providence College is coming to a close. I write to you to discuss one of the clubs I currently lead at PC, the College Republicans, and the path forward I hope it paves for our community.
The club changed course this year. Previously, we served primarily as a liaison to the national GOP. My executive board and I chose this year to more deeply involve ourselves in discussions and growth among the campus community. Truly, we have grown from a small liasion of party ambassadors to a large club full of close, trusting friends. Together we represent an even larger block of students; I would argue we have tried to represent the vast majority of our campus that has no official voice, and I would also argue that we have succeeded as best as a growing club can.
Now the question begs itself: now what? How do we move forward? I recommend three points.
Firstly, Republicans on this campus should make each and every effort to ensure adequate representation, primarily for Republicans, but also for all students. Make it a priority to push for the empowerment of students and student leaders, while also pushing to keep those leaders accountable to the people they represent. That also includes leaders we disagree with on an ideological level. Instead of focusing on differences between Democrat leaders and ourselves, we should take advantage of opportunities to collaborate towards common goals whenever possible.
My second point echoes the last sentence of the first. We represent a college community, and while we ought not lose sight of the national party and its issues, the PC students we represent are more affected, on average, by bad food or overcrowding in a dorm than gerrymandering in Maryland. As we drive on with representation, we should also tackle non-partisan issues such as these when others don’t.
Thirdly, continue as individuals fostering the atmosphere of welcoming and acceptance you fostered for me this year, and I hope our club fostered for you. Facts might not care about your feelings, but empathy, love and friendship are what gets people to listen to those facts. This doesn’t mean we can’t be angry when things go against our will. We can and should. Anger is not the same as apathy towards those who disagree with us. We are angry when we care; anger comes from love, from empathy. We are apathetic when we don’t care. An angry College Republican, like any angry leader, will always achieve more, care more, and love more than an apathetic one.
On colleges across this country, conservative thought faces very real repression from passionate yet misguided individuals, convinced, by a lack of real opposition combined with freely bestowed institutional power, that their might equals right and dissenters must be punished. Fortunately for us, some people may want that culture for PC, but that culture does not exist at PC. Sometimes, individuals are singled out by a mob for disparagement, but, for the most part today, students may express themselves in their dorms, enjoy a good time at college, and search out truth if they choose to seek it. A student leader can still express conservatism and be heard. It is my hope and prayer that our college Republicans, the organization, and the community, will do whatever is in their power to empower and protect liberty should anyone try to change that.
See you again soon.
Michael R. Bartels, ’18
College Republicans President