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College Republicans shift focus

BY CHRIS HIGGINS | APRIL 21, 2014 5:00 AM

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The University of Iowa College Republicans will hold its Grand Old Party outreach campaign this week. Members will host events such as a roundtable with congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks and a barbecue doubling as a food drive.

“It’s going to be a weeklong event to try to excite conservative members of the student body who we know are on campus,” said College Republicans President Quentin Marquez. “It’s going to promote our ideals.”

The organization has attracted controversy in past years with its annual outreach, and participants hope to shift tone this year.

In 2011 and 2012, the Republicans held contentious “Conservative Coming Out” weeks, which prompted a negative response from the university Gay, Lesbian, Transgender & Allied Union for the use of the term “coming out.”

In 2011, anthropology and women’s studies Professor Ellen Lewin wrote “F*** YOU, REPUBLICANS” in response to a mass e-mail sent by the College Republicans about efforts that year.

The group instead promoted a Second Amendment week last year to reduced controversy and chose to expand scope this year.

“I think we can get our message out in a different and a more positive way, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do as chair,” Marquez said. “This year we just wanted to go a little bit broader and try to connect with college students in a way that they could connect with.”

One student on the opposite side of the political spectrum reacted positively to the tone change.

“Although I do not know the specifics of this week, I am very pleased at this alleged change in focus, for this week in the past has been shrouded with offensive and marginalizing themes and events,” wrote University Democrats President Carter Bell in an email to The Daily Iowan.

Participants will be distributing information on the Pentacrest throughout the week to gather support for the upcoming midterm elections.

Marquez said he believes there is a stigma surrounding conservative political beliefs on campus, but Grand Old Party week will not dwell on it.

“This isn’t really a pity party for Republicans,” he said. “This is just us trying to get our message out in a way that can connect with college students.”

Bell said in the email she does not think there is such a stigma but that “conservatives are simply in the minority” and “the majority of students at the University of Iowa agree more with the Democratic Party’s values of equality and fairness.”


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