The national movement Students for Trump is growing to fill the gap left by rebelling College Republican (CR) groups in key swing states, as millions of students return to classes.
College Republicans at Harvard, Princeton, Ohio University, and others are steadily revolting against Republican nominee Donald Trump. A select group of students is drawing a line in the sand, enforcing Trump’s voice through the national group Students for Trump.
The College Republican National Committee is largely supportive of the decision some clubs are making to oppose Trump. Chairman Alexandra Smith told The Wall Street Journal, “there is more than one way to be a College Republican.” Smith later added that College Republicans are “nearly universal” in their opposition to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The student-led Students for Trump officially started last October, with no support from the national campaign. However, for many campuses, like the University of Virginia (UVA), this fall marks the first time a Student for Trump group led campaign activities.
Sabrina Kim is the Students for Trump ambassador at the University of Virginia, and she told The Daily Caller News Foundation that she plans to get students organized for Trump this fall.
Students for Trump is a different organization from other conservative groups that have a college presence. Kim told TheDCNF that the Students for Trump organization doesn’t offer monetary support for materials and expenses, but the group does offer ambassadors a lot of support with social media experience.
Another form of planned outreach is tabling, a method popular among college groups, where members approach students in between classes to have short, targeted conversations about the Republican nominee. Kim is hesitant about selling pro-Trump t-shirts on campus. Kim told TheDCNF that there are some outreach methods the UVA Students for Trump group will not participate in, because they do not wish to alienate anyone by being an overly vocal group.
Kim, who has a Korean heritage, told TheDCNF that she supports the Republican nominee foremost for his strong stance on immigration reform, adding that legal immigrants like her father came to the U.S. and built their own American Dream; those who wait in line should be given priority, not illegal immigrants.
Second on Kim’s list was Trump’s treatment of the military, and his strong stance regarding an overhaul of the controversial Department of Veterans Affairs. Kim emphasized a “return to a Reagan-era peace through strength strategy.” The final reason Kim gave for her support of the Republican nominee was her strong dislike for Clinton, who Kim asserted was easily manipulated through donors from Wall Street and other interests.
Kim said CRs should endorse Trump, adding, “if Trump doesn’t win, Hillary will.”
The UVA College Republicans have a complicated stance on Trump. Officially, the group has yet to make a stand either to endorse or reject the Republican candidate. Ali Hiestand, an official with the club, told TheDCNF that regardless of the vote next week to make a decision on nomination, the College Republicans will not stand in the way of conservative students who wish to use club resources for phone banks or other traditional campaign activities.
Hiestand added that this decision is not normal for a presidential race. CR support is normally standard, but Trump’s nomination is a divisive issue on campus. Hiestand said that the UVA College Republicans don’t want to take an extreme stance on the issue either way, so the club doesn’t lose members, and continues strong past the election.
Hiestand later added that she doesn’t know anyone in CR leadership who supports Trump.
The national chapter has a presence in 44 colleges nationwide, including the Ivy League.
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