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Conservatives speak out

BY GRACE SAVIDES | APRIL 23, 2010 7:30 AM

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After sending out an e-mail promoting Conservative Coming Out Week at the University of Iowa, Natalie Ginty said she received nasty e-mails calling her a Nazi-fascist and telling her she would burn in hell.

Ginty, the chairwoman of the UI College Republicans, said she was hurt by the comments, but she didn’t let them deter her from voicing a perspective she said isn’t heard on campus frequently.

“A lot of Republicans don’t speak up here,” she said, noting that many conservative students feel isolated in the predominately liberal Iowa City.

Conservative Coming Out Week, which began Monday and goes through Saturday, is designed to promote College Republicans and provide conservatives a place to meet like-minded individuals.

They began the week by passing out “Nobel Peace Prizes” on the Pentacrest — an attempted jab at Obama, who received the award last fall.



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But this year, Ginty said, the group has tried to be more politically correct. The members screened a documentary about the George W. Bush presidency and played a game in which members attempted to identify conservative celebrities.

Even with this emphasis, the group caught flack for its use of the phrase “coming out,” most commonly used to describe the process of publicly acknowledging one’s sexuality.

Ginty said that while the situations aren’t identical, the College Republicans were trying to accomplish a similar goal this week by appearing in public.

“We’re just trying to get our community to know who we are,” Ginty said.

Deb Derksen, a cochairwoman of the Johnson County Republicans, supported the Republicans for speaking their mind on a liberal campus.

“It’s important that you feel like you’re being backed by the adults who are in the community,” she said.

Some UI Republican students said they felt this event was a chance to open up.

UI junior Hillary Block said she sometimes refrains from speaking in class for fear of having classmates judge her. “It’s kind of hard in this town,” she said.

But UI sophomore Chris Nienart said that while he is aware of the political tensions on campus, he doesn’ t feel that people discourage him.

“I don’t feel like I’m being pushed out,” he said.

Republicans have traditionally been in the minority in Johnson County.

Democrats dominate with 40,574 registered voters to the Republican 16,359, which has been on a steady decline over the last five years, according to the Johnson County Auditor’s Office.

But this weeks’ events weren’t just for conservatives.

Dressed in red and blue T-shirts and sprinting across the patchy green grass, a handful of UI Democrats and Republicans gathered at Hubbard Park on Thursday to indulge in some friendly competition.

The games —including bocci ball, Frisbee, and football — were friendly despite the occasional playful political jabs on the field.

“Some people have reservations about it, but people are willing to look past their political division and play,” said Dane Hudson, the president of University Democrats.

“It’s a good way to do something together without conflict,” said UI freshman and University Democrat member Margaret Murphy.


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