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Proud to be a Republican at the University of Iowa

BY NATALIE GINTY - GUEST OPINION | APRIL 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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For the second year in a row, the University of Iowa College Republicans hosted "Conservative Coming Out Week." For those of you who have been holed up in the library studying for finals, here's a quick recap.

On Monday, the College Republicans sent out an approved e-mail to the entire university community and received more than 105 responses. This is normal for one of these e-mails; however, one response was quite different. It came from tenured UI Professor Ellen Lewin. Her message was, quite simply, "FUCK YOU, REPUBLICANS," with her credentials listed below.

Despite this hateful rhetoric, the next day we cosponsored a blood drive with the University Democrats in the Burge Carnival Room. Lives were saved, party lines were crossed, and a good cause received some much-needed help. That same afternoon, Lewin sent two e-mails to the College Republicans that, at best, were failed attempts at an apology for her previous outburst.

This matter went public Wednesday morning with a campuswide e-mail from President Sally Mason.

As Mason stated, "Intolerant and disrespectful discord is not acceptable behavior." That afternoon, despite the unseasonable cold weather, the College Republicans were on the Pentacrest handing out fake doctors' notes, a play on events that occurred during the protests in Madison, Wis., earlier this year.

Thursday, the College Republicans played some light-hearted field games in Hubbard Park. After playing flag football and kickball, we all enjoyed hot dogs and hamburgers while discussing the events of the past week.

Finally, today marks "Wear Red Day" in honor of the men and women serving our country.

The unfortunate events of this week reaffirm the necessity of a "Conservative Coming Out Week" in Iowa City. The UI is not a welcome place for Republican views, especially as long as professors such as Lewin receive their $94,800 salary (plus benefits) and use their university e-mail accounts to send hateful messages to college students with opinions different from theirs.

We're told when we come to college to express our ideals — that this is the first time in our lives where open discourse is encouraged. While it is expected that some of our more immature classmates would resort to hate speech and vulgarity in expressing their disagreement with a person's views, I would never have imagined that that response would come from a tenured professor.

Many have complained about the use of "coming out" in the title of the week. There is no patent placed upon the term, and making general assumptions about our beliefs is off base. The goal of "Conservative Coming Out Week" was for Republicans to be honest with their community to who they are: Republicans. I believe we accomplished just that.

Perhaps surprising to some, on April 26, we will host Fred Karger in 71 Schaeffer Hall at 9 p.m. for our last meeting of the school year. Karger, who is pursuing a run for president in 2012, has advised numerous Republican campaigns and is an active opponent of California's Proposition 8. Karger will be the first openly gay man to pursue the office of the presidency — and yes, he is a Republican.

As always, this event is open to all faculty and students. The Republican spectrum is broad, and we will always embrace respectful discussion of the future of our party and the issues facing our nation.

Throughout this week, we have faced much opposition, but that will never deter us from seeking an open, bipartisan discussion.

It is easy to mischaracterize and disregard an opposing view while sitting at your computer, as Lewin did on Monday. It is much harder, however, to let civility rule and stand for what you believe in.

Natalie Ginty is the chairwoman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans.


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