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College Republicans seek to boost membership after sharp decline

By Jackie Wattles
On February 3, 2013

  • The UConn College Republicans are seeking to increase their membership after a sharp decline in membership this year. SANTIAGO PALEAZ/The Daily Campus

The UConn chapter of College Republicans hosted a meeting of the Connecticut Union of College Republicans on Sunday, discussing strategies for reaching out to minorities and attracting more members after experiencing a sharp decline in membership this year.
The Chairman of the UConn College Republicans chapter, Mark Sargent, said membership has dwindled after a large group of members graduated from the club last year.
"We want to reach out to everyone. We don't necessarily want just people who vote Republican," Sargent said. "You could say you're a communist and we'd still welcome you into the club if you can teach us something. I want to know how I can better myself and the (Republican) party as a whole."
Sargent said he plans to host a social and get involved with other campus groups to encourage involvement.
Nick Givas, the head of Connecticut College Republicans and a political science major at Fairfield University, said the decline in membership is a problem not isolated to UConn. College Republican groups at universities across Connecticut have seen drops in member turnout.
"The election had a high-stress atmosphere, and around election time less people show up to meetings," Givas said. "And as leaders of the groups graduate, the handoff isn't always crisp, that makes it hard to keep people coming."
Givas said he hopes to augment membership by involving high school students.
"We want to reach out to juniors and seniors because those are the kids that are most likely going to end up going to Connecticut schools. We basically want to get a head start with these kids, and let them know what it means to stand up for your principles," Givas said.
Givas also said he wants College Republicans to begin supporting candidates who represent conservative values.
In a Facebook post on the UConn College Republicans page Givas is quoted as saying, "As far as CT is concerned, it is clear that the past tactics of nominating RINOS (republicans in name only) and old establishment cronies simply has not worked."
Givas said the GOP has done a poor job of reaching out to the younger demographic and ensuring them their interests are represented, and republicans that fail to reach out aren't "concerned about the country."
Wayne Winsley, a Republican from Naugatuck who lost his congressional race against democratic incumbent Rosa L. DeLauro in November, spoke to the group about ways he believes they can change their communication methods and attract youth and minority voters.
"In case you didn't know, I'm black," Winsley said to laughs. "And I'm not the only black man who thinks taxes are too high."
When asked how to reach out to more voters in a state dominated by Democrats, Winsley replied simply, "you have to act like you give a damn."
"It's untrue that black voters won't vote for Republicans. Democrats right now are just better at saying 'I care about you.'"
"When was the last time you saw a Republican at the booth on Election Day?" Winsley asked. "We have to be better at reaching out and sharing our message. We can't just show up to the elections. Democrats are there every day."

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