U Students on their Political Affiliation and Participation


Langley Hayman

(Photo by Langley Hayman | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Chandler Joost, News Writer


Politics and political activism in the United States has always existed in many forms, whether local, state or national, with many involving themselves in the process. However, recently there has been a renewed interest in politics and activism — left, right and center.

The University of Utah is no stranger to this renewed interest as political groups form or see an increase in activity.

Many conservative groups exist and operate on campus — the U is home to a chapter of the College Republicans, as well as Turning Point USA, which recently grew to 50 members, to name just a few.

Joshua Meyer, chairman of the Utah Federation of College Republicans and student at the U, said the overall goal of the College Republicans is to make conservative ideas more prevalent on campus.

“So, growing the Republican Party and the conservative movement on campus,” Meyer said. 

Meyer said not only does the club want to grow the Republican Party on campus, but they also want to increase involvement within the party itself.

“The other side is growing the involvement of students and young people in the Republican Party,” Meyer said. “So, we’re kind of going both directions.”

According to Real Clear Education, 50% of college students are liberal and 28% are conservative.

“Professors and our fellow students are always going to lean left,” Meyer said. “And that’s always going to make it harder for our perspectives to be heard.” 

However, Meyer said that is all the more reason the club encourages people to speak up.

“For political perspectives, we’ve seen issues before with the things we think the University is doing, and every time we’ve brought things up to different people for the most part, I think the University does a good job,” Meyer said. “They want fairness, most of the time. And they do a decent job reflecting that in their actions.”

The College Republicans choose to emphasize certain aspects of the Republican Party’s policy positions over others.

“More college Republicans are concerned about the environment than Republicans at large,” Meyer said. “College Republicans are more concerned with free speech than Republicans at large. At the same time, there’s some things like social security that’s a way bigger issue to Republicans at large than college Republicans.”

For the most part, though, Meyer said the group contains people with conservative ideas who reflect the party. 

Another group of conservatives with a chapter on campus is Turning Point USA, a nonprofit Christian conservative group that is mainly found on college campuses nationwide.

“It’s [a] Christian conservative group primarily, although we don’t endorse candidates since we are a nonprofit organization,” said Paige Nelson, president of the U’s chapter of TPUSA. “We just really focus on conserving traditional constitutional values and keeping individual rights for all people.”

The group is also focused on allowing conservative students an outlet and place to find friends with similar beliefs and values.

“Creating friendships and relationships with people that we know are meaningful because for me, it’s hard to make friends with someone who looks at me wrongly because of my political views,” Nelson said.

Being a Christian conservative group, TPUSA supports conservative causes such as being pro-life, advocating for the second amendment and positions against big government and government spending, to name a few.

“The majority of the people that are in positions in our club are pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and free speech,” Nelson said. 

Turning to the other side of the political aisle, the U has some clubs that espouse more liberal or progressive beliefs.

According to Students for a Democratic Society’s Facebook page, the group is “a multi-issue national, radically progressive student organization. We fight to improve the lives of students.”

The College Democrats, recently reinstated on the U’s campus, did not respond to a request for comment.

Progressive students such as Ava Peitz feel accepted and represented on campus. Self-described economically left and socially libertarian, Peitz believes her values are commonly held among those she associates with.

“Whenever I have had discourse with a peer, we have been respectful of each other and discussed how our ideologies might shift or become stronger based on the new perspectives we bring to each other,” Peitz said.

Peitz said she feels one of the biggest societal issues is an unwillingness to listen to an opposing opinion. 

“I understand moral discrepancies that might strain familial or friendly relationships,” Peitz said. “But I believe that respectful conversation and communication, as well as multi-perspective education, is the most important goal we need to strive for as a society in order to solve our most pressing issues.”


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