After resigning from the position of vice president of the College Republicans, Erica Harpster, a fifth-year ICS major, along with colleague Ryan Mykita, a third-year political science and economics major, decided to form the Irvine Conservative Student Union.
‘The purpose of the College Republicans is to support local Republican, strictly partisan causes through fundraising, rallying, signature-gathering and whatnot,’ Harpster explained. ‘I prefer conservative discussion and less public activism. The College Republicans just isn’t the forum for that sort of thing.’
Brian Zuetel, the president of the College Republicans and a third-year political science major, commented on the loss of Harpster to the staff.
‘I was sorry to see Erica leave the College Republicans, but I know she will do great things in the Irvine Conservative Student Union,’ Zuetel said. ‘I am glad to see another club forming on campus to foster conservative expression at UCI.’
According to Harpster, ‘The College Republicans exists to promote Republican and conservative values on campus, to represent Republicans in college at UCI, to provide a haven for the free expression of Republican and conservative ideas on a hostile campus and to assist Republican candidates for local, state and national office.’
The ICSU, on the other hand, is not affiliated with the Republican Party, nor Young America’s Foundations, or anything of that nature.
‘This group, which will be funded through our [non-profit] 501(c)(3) foundation, will be the first of its kind in the University of California system, and one of the first, if not the first in the Western United States,’ Mykita said. ‘Our independence is what is key here.’
‘Ideologically, we want to be a forum for all non-liberal viewpoints: conservative, libertarian, independent, et cetera,’ Harpster said.
Mykita, now the co-chair of the new organization, then stated some of the goals the ICSU plan to accomplish.
‘The purpose of ICSU is to create a more official mechanism by which students can formalize their complaints about the affairs that are on campus,’ Mykita said.
According to Mykita, the ICSU is also looking to improve the political dialog on campus by getting more people involved with a stronger unifying force for conservatives.
Harpster said some of her goals as the new chair are to add a support system for the non-liberal ‘political minority’ on campus and ‘change the political climate on campus by hosting speakers and encouraging thoughtful, not shrill or angry, debate.’
With the addition of the ICSU, students now have a choice of conservative organizations they can choose to fit their needs.
The College Republicans meet every other Wednesday at 5 p.m. in SSPA 1170. The first meeting of the quarter will be on Jan. 14.
The ISCU meets every Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Aliso Room near the Student Center Courtyard.