On Sept. 25, the Rowan University chapter of the College Republicans hosted an open discussion about U.S. gun policy in Robinson Circle. In an effort to open up public political discourse on campus, the club invited anyone, regardless if they are anti-gun control or pro-gun control, to talk about their views on Second Amendment rights in America. In the wake of several recent mass shootings, as well as Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke stating, “We’re going to take your AR-15s,” at the recent debate, gun policy seems to be the perfect topic to have a dialogue about.
Even with the glaring similarities to conservative podcaster Stephen Crowder’s “Change My Mind” table, in which he welcomes debates and sometimes heated arguments on particular political hot topics, Rowan Republicans president, Santino D’Agostino, a junior majoring in music education and performance, claims that their event was more of a general discussion forum.
“The whole point of the table is really just to discuss our opinions,” stated D’Agostino. “I think a lot of the outrage we see on campuses and in the climate of politics isn’t really based on the facts of everything; it’s more like a misunderstanding.”
Despite the controversy surrounding conservative activist groups on college campuses in the United States, most notably at University of California, Berkeley, some of the members of the Rowan Republicans claim that the school has done a great job allowing open political discourse.
“Rowan seems to be pretty good in accommodating more right-of-center beliefs,” said Jared Carll, a senior political science major and club member.
“On [Rowan’s campus], we actually do have a good bit of political discourse,” said Michael Campana, a sophomore political science major. “We’re not here to antagonize anybody. We just want to talk to them.”
While a handful of people rapped with the Rowan Republicans on gun policy, the most notable participants were two on-duty law enforcement officers who had a lengthy discussion with a couple members of the club, in which they discussed firearms and mental health screening for gun customers.
Students also participated, with a few of them making inquiries to D’Agostino about club membership. Junior international studies major Alex Rossen, a self-described progressive, was there for the purpose of hearing out the other side.
“I know the same issues don’t apply to everything, but they do apply to some things; [These issues] definitely need to be talked about,” Rossen said.
The College Republicans of Rowan University and the Rowan Democrats, the two dominating political groups on campus, will face off once again in their annual debate on Oct. 23 at 7:00 p.m. in the Chamberlain Student Center.
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