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The Dartmouth
May 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Mesa: College Republicans (dis)United

The College Republicans’ move to becoming “the MAGA Ivy” is beclowning.

The Dartmouth College Republicans are hoping to make a big name for themselves by hosting bigger names – at least among the Fox News faithful. Forgoing invitations of think-tank policy wonks with mature positions worthy of debate, today’s College Republicans are all about flash, bang and headlines. Over the past 10 months, they’ve shelled out good money welcoming intellectual lightweights such as Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., Project Veritas Founder James O’Keefe and journalist Andy Ngo. More on these morons shortly. Suffice to say the current members of the College Republicans leadership aren’t your uncle’s College Republicans. They court controversy over conversation. Outrage is a feature, not a bug.

Nowhere is the shift more evident than the College Republicans’ embrace of College Republicans United. Tasked with “spreading America First across college campuses,” the fledgling group has established chapters in Arizona, California, Iowa, New York and New Hampshire since its 2018 founding. They openly reject the idea of a “nation of immigrants” and say that the forefathers came from their European lands to establish a new order for their descendants. Quoting directly from their site: “We cannot pretend that bringing in tens of millions of immigrants will improve the lives of the native-born population.” Furthermore, they state that: “Contrary to what corporate media and corrupt institutions claim, immigration has negative effects on the country, such as importing reduced living standards and cultures that are antithetical to our own.” Their definition of “antithetical to [their] own” refers to cultures or countries that are not inherently Western and European. Their economic backing for such a position derives from the notion that immigrants cannot be productive taxpayers when achieving material success and reaching a higher tax bracket, as in order to reach that higher tax bracket they must displace “Americans.” Policy prescriptions on this front include ending birthright citizenship (which would require an amendment to the Constitution), a 10-year moratorium on immigration to allow current immigrants “time to properly assimilate into American communities and culture” and a net-zero immigration policy in which emigration and immigration offset each other.

Nevermind that as the grandson of Cuban immigrants, I find such asinine views on immigration abhorrent, but rather: What is the purpose of tying oneself to such an organization? I could talk about the labor shortage in the U.S. and how traditionally Latin Americans of various immigration statuses have fulfilled a vital role in the US economy through farming and other migrant work, but it makes more sense to reflect on what an organization like the College Republicans is supposed to do on a college campus. In a typical chapter, there is support for varying Republican views and speakers, as well as hosting campaigns or initiatives around voting. In Republican circles, as within Democratic circles, there are often a litany of opinions concerning a broad swath of issues; fostering discourse in a panoply of such opinions contributes to interesting dialogue and perhaps changing viewpoints or concessions in a noble academic pursuit. Chasing Dartmouth administrators on a Blair Witch Project-style shaky cam with James O’Keefe is nothing close to this. It doesn’t even work to serve a broader Republican interest on campus, but instead serves the purpose of a very few who are dead set on one ideological way. If the College Republicans, led by their president Chloe Ezzo ’22, needed a template for fostering debate or representing opposing viewpoints on campus, they would need to look no further than the Political Economy Project and the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy. They have hosted former Marine general James Mattis, former U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar, NR Contributor Ramesh Ponnuru and former U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.These are just a few of the speakers I have been able to see through their events, and certainly not the only who have argued for or weighed the outcomes of right-wing positions. 

However, this has not been the approach taken by Ezzo and the College Republicans leadership and campus discourse has suffered for it. They have taken their own portion of Republican views and made them the edict of the club, perhaps best cemented in their Twitter bio which says, “We’re proud to be the #MAGA Ivy.” Then, circling back to the aforementioned platform on immigration, it is important to note that these views are fringe on the right wing. Per Pew Research polling published on race and immigration in 2019, they found that a growing number of Republicans felt that newcomers from other countries strengthened American society and that America’s openness to people from the world is essential to our national identity. Even more telling was the fact that these positions differed sharply on the basis of age. The percentage of Republicans supporting  both of those statements were 40% and 22%, respectively for people over the age of 50, but that number increased to 56% and 49%  respectively for those aged 18-34. These differences grew larger when accounting for whether or not those surveyed were college graduates . So not only are the College Republicans United’s views on immigration  abhorrent, but also not consistent with younger, college-educated Republicans the group is supposed to represent.

To the rest of campus, as a registered Libertarian (yes, yes, insert your eyeroll here), may I offer some advice: If you truly have an issue with their troll speakers, just simply don’t show up to their events. It seems that the current College Republicans leadership does not speak for all right-leaning students on campus, but the side it does speak for cannot live without “leftist woke outrage” and “trolling them libs.” In a vacuum, it fizzles out for its lack of intellectual oxygen. They need you to show up and yell at them or protest events so they can claim a perceived victim status. If your desire is to not have bad speakers on campus like Cawthorn and O’Keefe — the latter of whom kept confusing The Dartmouth and The Dartmouth Review — then your best option is simply to not engage. 

To the College Republicans leadership team, the views as outlined by College Republicans United are not only awful, but an inaccurate telling of American history, culture and economics. I won’t lambast you with the story of my family and their immigration story because frankly it is beneath me to have to explain to you the sacrifices and bravery you and I will never know. However, if you’d like to double down on these viewpoints, perhaps an open forum debate or discussion would be a proper venue.

Gregory Mesa is a member of the Class of 2022 and a senior editor for The Dartmouth Review. 

The Dartmouth welcomes guest columns. We request that guest columns be the original work of the submitter. Submissions may be sent to both opinion@thedartmouth.com and editor@thedartmouth.com. Submissions will receive a response within three business days.