Individual liberty. Economic opportunity. American exceptionalism. These ideals drive the local College of the Sequoias’ chapter of the College Republicans.
Murmurs of everyone’s week flew about until 12:10pm on October 9, when chapter president Angello Asuncion turned everyone’s focus towards a screen with an American flag. They stood, saluted, and sat down. “Okay, everyone. Name, major, and choose a superpower,” said Asuncion. After introductions were made, Asuncion turned the meeting over to advisor Stephen Tootle.
Tootle has been the advisor of the club for around 10 years. “I thought this would be a great vehicle for providing opportunities for COS students in politics.” He helps facilitate college transfers, careers in politics, or leadership on the state and national level. “My main job here is to complete administrative tasks so that students can run the club.”
When Tootle gave his notes for the week, he pushed an event for the students to attend. “There’s a permit out for a protest at a Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting. The sheriff called and asked to see some friendly faces there,” said Tootle. He told the club that the permit was to protest the sheriff’s implementation of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“I have a feeling that about half of the protestors there wouldn’t have a problem with what they’re saying,” said Tootle.
The club, like the two other political clubs on campus, Young Democrats and COS Greens, is state-chartered. According to the California College Republicans website, the clubs across California “recruit, train, and empower College Republicans to combat liberal bias on campus, and help to elect Republicans throughout our state.”
College Republicans don’t face much liberal bias on the COS campus, as the college is situated in a deep-red town. Instead, it focus on the latter.
“Let’s talk about Triple Threat,” said Asuncion as he checked his notes. “Justin Mendes, Andy Vidak, and David Valadao need our help,” he said. Asuncion explained the logistics of the event. They were to go canvass and phonebank for the three candidates.
“We focus on all candidates,” said Tootle. “There’s Valadao, Mathis, and Vidak, but Nunes is the center of what we do year in and year out.” He provided a time and location for members to go and phonebank for Devin Nunes during the meeting.
The group also discussed working at a fundraiser for Nunes. “We, of course, have to keep it secret,” said Tootle during the meeting. “I promise you it’s not normally like this,” he said. The club members would have to usher attendees to their seats, take tickets, and staff the other areas of the location. “Look at it this way, you get into an event that costs a couple grand for free,” said Asuncion.
Some members have even left the club or stopped participating because they’ve gone out to work on campaigns. Only eight people attended this meeting, though the club had more students enrolled.
The College Republicans see their duties as local, and they do what they can to give back to their communities. The club holds a Faith and Philosophy Inquiry Group every Thursday. “We started Faith and Philosophy to have a civil and productive discussion,” said Tootle. Folks from all backgrounds are welcome at these events.
During the meeting, a representative from the COS newspaper “The Campus” came in and brought up the idea of having a forum between the Young Democrats and the College Republicans. They showed interest, and told the representative that they would await the Young Democrats’ answer.
“We’ve always had good relations with other clubs, and I attribute it to our efforts on campus,” said Tootle.
This specific chapter seems to align more with the mission and statements on the national level as opposed to the California College Republicans.
According to the national College Republicans website, “the [College Republicans National Committee] recruits, trains, mobilizes, and engages college-aged students in all 50 states and Washington D.C. to win elections and advocate for conservative ideals.”
As the meeting adjourned, Asuncion made a final announcement. “If anyone needs a ride, I can take three more people to the protest,” he said. Some walked out talking to each other about classes and movies. They seemed happy to be politically engaged and they enjoyed meeting people with the same interests as them.
“When it comes down to it,” Tootle said. “Our organization believes that you have to be nice to everyone all the time.”