Ohio College Republicans offer more than campaign work.
I was recently asked by one of my former campaign supervisors to write a few paragraphs about my political experience. The purpose of this request, he said, was so that he could show his current and future interns about the value of getting involved in politics. Once he mentioned that goal, I was more than happy to oblige — because I knew just how many opportunities I have been afforded since becoming involved in politics.
One common theme throughout all the opportunities I have been afforded has been the connection to College Republicans. Between direct and indirect connections — including becoming involved in the College Republican chapter on campus – it seemed as though CRs has been woven into my college experience so far.
I first found CRs at the involvement fair during the first week of my freshman year. I spotted the CR table from a distance, and I immediately knew that I had found an organization I needed to sign up for. I was amazed at all the different handouts and (for lack of a better term) swag that the College Republican National Committee had provided, and grabbed a handful to bring back to my dorm.
In attending the first meeting of the year, I made many fast friends. We bonded over our shared interest of conservative principles and values, and were ecstatic at all the campaign opportunities that were presented before us. I can still picture that moment — more than 2 years ago — sitting in the room and realizing that joining College Republicans would quite possibly be my best decision of college.
After spending freshman year as an active participant of the CR chapter on campus at the University of Dayton, I decided to take our chapter to greater heights. I ran for President, and was very grateful to have been elected. I spent the next year as the President of that the UDCRs, and was quite content with the opportunities I was able to provide all the chapter members.
At that point, I had grown close not only to the members in my own chapter, but also to CRs all across the state of Ohio. Events like the Ohio College Republican Federation (OCRF) Convention and Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) did a phenomenal job of bringing CRs together – and some of my fondest memories in CRs were forged at those gatherings.
The Chairman of the OCRF, Christian Pancake, was graduating, and therefore was not running for another term. I had spoken to a number of my friends in CRs around the state of Ohio, and decided that I would be a good candidate to succeed the outgoing Chairman. After a successful campaign, I felt quite honored to be elected Chairman of the OCRF this past April.
“A lot has happened in everyone’s lives over the past 2 years, but I am proud to say that my best decision in college was the moment I signed up for College Republicans.”
I’m not sure if I truly understood the incredible achievements of all the chapters in the OCRF until I began campaigning for Chairman and talking with chapter chairs all across the state. So many students from a number of different backgrounds all come together for a shared love of conservative values and principles — that is what the OCRF, and College Republicans as a whole, is all about.
Numerous politicians throughout Ohio have expressed to me their immense gratitude for all the work that CR chapters did for Republican candidates up and down the ballot in the 2016 election. As a whole, OCRF chapters made hundreds of thousands of voter contacts for candidates from local races to the Presidential race. Looking back on how much of a powerhouse the OCRF chapters were in the 2016 cycle gives me great hope for the local races in 2017, the myriad of races in 2018, and beyond.
College Republicans is not just about campaigning, even if that is a big part of the operations of any given chapter. When Christian was helping me transition into the role, he spoke of “creating a culture” in each chapter and in the OCRF as a whole. This “culture” was vital in ensuring that each chapter of CRs was more than just a bunch of kids who got together to knock doors for a certain politician. He was getting at the idea that any group of CRs should be connected not only by a love for conservative values and principles, but also through friendship.
As someone whose best friends come from College Republicans, I think that “creating the culture” is crucially important, and something that chapters throughout the OCRF tend to excel at. I firmly believe that if there was no “culture” in a given chapter, the CR experience as a whole would be diminished. Luckily, in meeting many of the chapters across the state, I have been glad to see that Ohio CR chapters know how important “creating the culture” is.
If I had any piece of advice to give to someone, it would be to become involved in College Republicans. While joining a chapter is a terrific decision, there are other ways to get involved as well. Support for a chapter, whether financial or moral, goes a long way, and is greatly appreciated by everyone in that chapter. I know of a number of people who have graduated college and have still stayed involved in CRs one way or another — and none of them regret that decision. A lot has happened in everyone’s lives over the past 2 years, but I am proud to say that my best decision in college was the moment I signed up for College Republicans.
Follow this author on Twitter: @tomferrall