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College Republicans end hiatus

Nicole Zook | Thursday, March 4, 2004

After a brief hiatus, the Saint Mary’s College Republicans is back in business. The club held its first meeting in almost a month last night, after taking a break from its scheduled weekly meetings to reformat and prepare for next year.

President-elect Michelle Fitzgerald emphasized how useful the break was for the club.

“We created an executive board to meet once a week outside the meetings to plan structure and discuss what we will be covering at the meeting,” she said. “This meeting is important to gain focus for the club, to gain membership, and to embark on the new opportunities that we have for the club.”

The St. Joseph County Women’s Republican Club, which the Saint Mary’s club forged a connection with this year, will provide some of these new opportunities. The club wants to get involved in politics on a local and possibly even state level through such activities as phone surveys and campaigns.

“We see ourselves as a club not just for Republicans, but for political awareness in general,” Fitzgerald said. “We plan on holding forums, speeches and panels for the Saint Mary’s community as well as participating in activities outside the Saint Mary’s campus.”

On campus, the club plans to collaborate with other campus groups such as the College Democrats and Peacemakers to hold debates and inform students. Fitzgerald said that the club is highly aware that most Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students get their only news from television and The Observer’s “World and Nation” section.

“We definitely want to increase political awareness on the Saint Mary’s campus – not just republican issues, but all issues that are being discussed nationwide,” she said.

Claude Renshaw, a business professor and club advisor, said that the members hope to accomplish this through several activities, including traveling to the state legislature in Indianapolis, attending the upcoming debates held by Congressman Chris Chocola and traveling to the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Renshaw was also pleased that the incoming and outgoing officers were using the end of this school year to prepare for the future of the club.

Current College Republicans president Jessica Millanes and vice president Vanessa Hetrick will both graduate in May. Fitzgerald and vice president-elect Lauren Fabina are underclassmen who intend to stay highly involved with the club until the end of their senior years.

“I think this is a good signal,” Renshaw said. “We’re identifying younger students, freshmen and sophomores, to get involved and provide future leadership.”