While many students mourned the results of the 2016 presidential election, others hid their celebration. At that time, it became clear to Stephanie Stokamer, Director of Civic Engagement, that many conservative students felt unable to express their political views on campus. “That’s a problem in a democracy,” she said. “We need to be able to talk to each other and navigate differences of opinions.”
This semester, the McCall Center is forming the College Republicans club to provide an outlet for conservative students.
In forming the club, Stokamer is looking at the big picture. It’s an election year, and preparing the campus to be able to weather another election is a priority for the center. “We want a Republican voice on campus, and a club is a good way to create dialogue,” she said. “You can’t have a conversation if there’s only one side.”
However, at the time this article was written, the developing club lacks a student leader and advisor. Despite the center’s enthusiasm for College Republicans, the club needs the bodies to support it. Stokamer knows conservative identifying students exist on campus. She urges these students, and all interested in having multiple perspectives on campus, to engage in the club.
Stokamer isn’t the only person on campus concerned with Pacific’s political scene. President of College Democrats Max Lien worries who will continue the Democratic club when he graduates this fall. While College Republicans is a club that has historically faded when its members graduate, College Democrats has survived beyond the people who founded it.
The Democratic club, according to Political Science professor Dr. Jim Moore, Director of Political Outreach, is directly connected to the Democratic Party of Oregon. It’s continued for the better part of a decade. In his eighteen years at Pacific, Moore has seen the birth and death of many political clubs at Pacific. For a campus with an inconsistent history of political clubs, Moore finds the longevity of Pacific’s College Democrats rare. “When the presidential election is over,” he said, “the political clubs usually all just disappear.” He believes one reason the club survived so long is that they “gritted their teeth, and decided to become engaged on a deeper level.”
When Lien took over College Democrats in the fall of 2019, he had ideas on how the club could spur political interest on campus. Having transferred to Pacific in his junior year, he anticipated a student body actively engaged in politics. But with little turn out to meetings and a cold response from students at tabling events, he was surprised by the general campus’ disinterest in politics.
Much of the club’s potential, Lien says, simply isn’t being realized. With the creation of College Republicans, he hopes that both political clubs can work together to increase understanding of how politics impacts each individual. “We are all intricately connected and we’re all affected by legislation,” Lien said. “If we get angry and become increasingly apathetic and resentful, it doesn’t change anything.”
Lien explains that both clubs’ successes are mutually beneficial, and urges students to take a moment to tune into what’s going on around them. “Whether it’s college democrats or college republicans, I just hope that students take a minute to listen in, get engaged, and see what’s going on.”