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College Republicans host open forum after week of tension

Mikayla Brody | Hatchet Photographer
GW College Republicans President Austin Hansen said the organization is meeting Wednesday to decide whether to respond to Trump’s immigration ban.

Updated: Feb. 2, 2017 at 8:16 a.m.

With increased political tension surrounding the first week of President Donald Trump’s policies, the GW College Republicans hosted an event to increase conversation Tuesday night.

Austin Hansen, the CRs’ president, hosted the open forum and discussion with about 30 to 40 students in the basement of District House. Conversation topics ranged from the recent political climate to students’ Facebook posts to the quality of the CRs’ executive board.

After the event, Hansen said he had talked with Josh Kirmsse, the executive vice president of GW College Democrats, about holding a similar forum every two weeks with each organization taking turns hosting the event.

Hansen said his goals for the discussion were to create a respectful dialogue, provide context and information about recent decisions made by his organization and to give perspective for students who feel misunderstood.

“The number one goal was to foster a dialogue that I feel a lot of people on this campus felt was absent and has been absent for awhile,” Hansen said. “We like to talk past each other, we like to post our statuses, but there isn’t a whole lot of discussion.”

Check out some highlights from the event:

1. CR inaction against immigration ban

Students questioned the lack of a statement from CRs on the recent immigration ban by Trump and asked why the group didn’t release a statement about to the major policy change from the Republican party.

Hansen said he did not personally agree with the ban but did not want to speak for the rest of the group, which he said will meet Wednesday night to discuss whether or not they will respond to Trump’s ban.

“I didn’t want to make that statement because we want to honor the commitment of allowing people to have a dialogue and to discuss the issue before making a decision,” he said.

2. Responding to Republican policies

Throughout the discussion, students said they were concerned that the organization could be undermining the safety and security of students by not taking an official stance against white supremacists who identify as Republicans.

Other CR members there said although some people on the national level who are white supremacists may also classify themselves as Republicans, there is no member of their group who holds those views.

“There is a distinction that needs to be made,” Hansen said. “There are individuals with distinct views, but our organization and our chapter is very broad, but there is nowhere in our organization that we support white supremacy.”

3. Open perspective and dialogue

Students from all sides of the political spectrum urged people not to judge others based on their party affiliation.

Student Association Senator Imani Ross, CCAS–U, encouraged other students to not assume things about other people based on what is on the outside.

“There’s a difference between who you are and your projection,” she said. “I think it’s important to look beyond labels and really understand who people are.”

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