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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth GOP stages Collis rally

Dartmouth loves America -- and American meat products, as was confirmed yesterday evening during a barbecue entitled "Dartmouth Loves America" on the Collis Center porch.

The College Republicans and COSO staged the toast to America and its ideals to a transient crowd of mixed politics and hot dog preference -- beef, kosher, tofu and turkey.

"The food didn't disagree with me, but the Republicans did," Katherine Norton '05 said.

Midway through the barbecue James Baehr '05, secretary of the College Republicans, stepped up to the microphone to deliver the opening -- and what ultimately turned out to be the closing -- remarks.

"This country is not great because of all its prosperity and material goods, it is great because of the spirit of decency and self sacrifice that is embodied in its people," Baehr said. No other people at the event volunteered to speak publicly on what they love about America. Rather, tapes of speeches given by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush followed Baehr's introduction. A mix of patriotic music played in the meantime.

The absence of other voices, however, did not necessarily equate to accordance with Baehr's assessment. Mark Wang '05, said that free food -- a material good -- is an important part of what makes America great.

"Very few other countries can do this," he said. "It makes me feel all warm inside."

The food, however, came with another agenda. While the public politicking was kept to a minimum, a sign-up sheet for attendees interested in receiving blitz bulletins from the College Republicans sat on top of the table bearing chips, beverages, and tableware. At one point, names filled almost all the available spaces.

College Republicans President Meg Thering '05 said that the barbecue was intended in part to attract new members into the organization's ranks.

But the main reason in showing how much love there is for America at Dartmouth was to balance the scales of public opinion on campus, she said. Recent student protests against the war in Iraq presented a decidedly negative outlook on America. What was missing from the collective voice was positive support for America, not just in its policy, but in what it stands for.

"One of the reasons we decided to do this event is that it seems like there's been a lot of anti-American sentiment on campus this year. I realize this isn't a perfect country, but just as it's important to question the bad, we need to celebrate the good," Thering said.

It has yet to be determined whether other campus political organizations share in the same spirit of the demonstrable patriotism. Not the Greens, the Young Democrats nor even the Campus Libertarians have lavished praise on America as the Republicans have, that is, by barbecuing.

Which raises the question, several attendees asked: Do they really love America?

Clint Hendler '05, speaking for the Dartmouth Greens, denied that no barbecue meant no love for America.

"I would say that we love America a lot," Hendler said. "If you really love America, you'd be going out and trying to make it a better place, not having a barbecue."

Not to say that the College Republicans have been idling completely in its more substantive programs. Thering said that included in what the organizations plans to do in the remaining weeks of the term are a Tubestock cookout and possibly bringing in speakers to campus.

But Hendler remained adamant that the attempt to spread love of America was misguided in its effects.

"If only the Republicans were more willing to give their food to people starving in American ghettos and starving third-world countries, and not to Dartmouth students," he said.

About 100 students and bypassers attended the event, which was also envisioned as a continuation of the July 4 festivities. Hungry attendants exhausted the initial hot dog supply an hour into the barbeque, driving organizers to purchase 100 more as supplements. Those hot dogs were soon eaten as well.

The College Republicans meet weekly on Mondays at 8:15 p.m. in the Collis Center. Membership is open to all Dartmouth students. The organization sponsors several large-scale events each year, including Winter term's Ronald Reagan birthday bash held in the FUEL nightclub.