The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

College Republicans and Democrats navigate tensions


College campuses are not immune to political divisions that have roiled the country in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, which leaves student-led political organizations trying to navigate the tumult. 

At St. Joe’s, leaders of the SJU College Democrats and the SJU College Republicans are trying to figure out a way forward in a partisan system that often pits students with different views against each other.

“With everything that’s been happening recently, like the presidential election and the insurrection in January, there has been a lot of tension worldwide that also translates onto our campus,” said Katharine Gazaleh ’23, director of social media for the SJU College Democrats.

Gazaleh said those tensions make it difficult to run a political organization.

“We see a lot of people on two extreme sides who sometimes get very passionate about things that are going on, which can be a good thing and also a bad thing depending on the situation,” Gazaleh said. “That tension that we see on campus sometimes can make it difficult to have a political club.”

Sara Dimarino ’23, president of SJU College Republicans, said campus political organizations are also hampered by the assumptions people make about them. 

“Whether you’re part of College Republicans or College Democrats, being involved in a political organization is just hard because people have so many assumptions about you based on what club you’re part of,” Dimarino said. “That also affects people’s involvement in political clubs because sometimes they just don’t want to be associated with it.”

Patrick du Bois ’21, vice president of SJU College Republicans, agreed with Dimarino and said that there are certain stigmas when you are associated with an on-campus political organization.

“There are a lot of kids who don’t want to have the attachment of being part of College Republicans because of the connotations of ‘Oh, you’re a Republican,’ and then there’s this litany of insulting factors,” du Bois said. 

But du Bois said the members of the group are connected by the passion for politics, and membership in the group is up. 

“Whenever we have anything politically significant, an election cycle or big events, that drives up interest, regardless of electoral results,” du Bois said. “So we’ve had pretty solid participation and a lot of new members this year who were not active last year.” 

Gazaleh said the SJU College Democrats are trying to address conflict on campus and live up to their mission to be inclusive by working with other campus organizations.

“One way we’d like to try to ease the tensions is by trying to connect with other clubs and organizations to show that we really aren’t this independent single group,” Gazaleh said. “We really want to expand and have these diverse ideas and collaborations with a lot of groups on campus like the Black Student Union and Latinx Student Association.”

Gazaleh said the organization is also considering a possible collaboration with the SJU College Republicans. 

Du Bois said the SJU College Republicans would be open to that. 

“We haven’t really collaborated on anything huge although we have reached out over the past four years, several times,” du Bois said. “I’m definitely looking forward to better cooperation in the future because now they’re getting very active, which makes me happy.”

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