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RSO spotlight: Aquinas Republicans and Democrats

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Story by Ty Smith, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of Ty Smith

Saint Stock has come once again, and this year two tables stood across the aisle in seeming opposition; the AQ Republicans and AQ Democrats student organizations faced each other during the three hour event. Neither group is new to campus, but this is the first time both have been at Saint Stock.

The AQ Republicans were established first as a registered student organization. “We’ve been around since 2008, and possibly earlier,” said Luke Strobel, the club’s advisor. Strobel also noted that while he joined in 2008, he wasn’t certain how long it had been an organization beforehand.

The AQ Democrats, however, are much younger. “AQ Dems are actually the second iteration of a liberal club.” said Spencer Elliott, the organization’s vice-president. “There was an AQ Liberal club about two years ago, and that didn’t work so now we’re reformed as the AQ Dems.”

Both clubs focus on issues near and dear to their political parties, though these issues are not always the same. Of AQ Republican’s issues, Strobel said, “Our club tries to be very business oriented, a lot of our members are very into economics, constitutionalism and are very local rights.”

Andy Houser, the club’s chair, added, “One thing we try to stress is we want to make sure we aren’t alienating anyone within the club. We want to focus on the fundamentals, and make sure people are getting out there and voting.”

The AQ Democrats, however, tend to vary a bit in their issues. “Our issues kind of change.” Elliott said. “Last year we focused on gay rights, on dealing with Trump. Trump was an issue for a huge amount of people last year that aren’t just Democrats, we had a lot of moderates come in last year.”

As for this year’s issues, Elliott said, “It’s a little too early to say, but we had a poster board up at Saint Stock, and people could put sticky notes with their interests on it and we’re going to take some advice from that.” He continued, “A lot of it had to do with women’s equal pay and healthcare reform. The big one right now is DACA.”

As with any clubs, both RSOs will be putting on events through the year. “As with every year, we will be going to CPAC.” Strobel said. “That’s probably the pinnacle of the year, it’s our DC trip.”

That’s not all their events. Houser mentioned going to the Lincoln Day dinner, and Strobel mentioned that there’s going to be a lot of opportunity to volunteer and intern with the Kent County GOP. Meanwhile, the AQ Democrats’ list of events is a little smaller.

“So far we’ve just been trying to build interest in our club.” Elliott said. “We’ve had events like pizza nights and everything, sort of social mixers, just so people can recognize we’re there.”

Now that the group is more established, they plan on putting on larger events. “This year we’re planning on having political speakers come in, people who represent Democrats on a state level come in.” Elliott said. “I think we’re having the runner for the 77th District come in for a Q and A, we’re hoping to do that for a few times this year.” The club plans to change from mainly smaller events to bigger, single events that happen once a month or so.

No club can exist alone, however. Both organizations have plans to work with other clubs throughout the year. Houser said, “We’re looking at going to the March for Life, some of us are parts of Saints for Life and we’re looking at sponsoring something with them.”

As for the AQ Democrats’ plans, Elliott said, “AQ Democrats have been looking for a while to work with AQ Republicans, and also AQ Pride, in a non-partisan manner.”

While the details still have to be worked out, both Elliott and Houser mentioned that the AQ Democrats and Republicans are looking to do a donation drive for hurricane relief.

“Our main goal is to help people, set aside our partisanship for now, and help people.” Elliott said. “We need to be conscious citizens, and this is a great way to do that.” He also noted it helped to humanize both sides of the political spectrum, and that there was a possibility for further non-partisan cooperation between the two clubs.

About the Writer:

Ty SmithTy Smith is from a small town located in the thumb of Michigan. He loves writing, reading, music, and video games. He also believes that cats are better than dogs.

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