During the fall semester of 2016, Stevenson hosted a mock presidential debate in Rockland. Four students volunteered to represent presidential candidates –Trump, Clinton, Kasich, and Sanders. Of these four candidates, Nick Kelly represented Trump.
Since this debate, Kelly, a business and criminal justice major, has been advocating for a campus club that would encourage students to have intellectual discussions about politics, social issues, religion, and many more hot topics. Kelly was successful, and Stevenson University’s Republican Club made their debut on campus this past semester.
Kelly started the club because he was finding limited political diversity in the classroom. He noticed his more conservative peers holding back in classes because they feared rejection or criticism for not possessing the same beliefs as what they saw as the majority of the class.
“Topics would arise in class that normally should be challenged, but they were not challenged,” said Kelly. He felt a need for more open discussions among all students.
Kelly described the mission of the club as to “create an environment for people to come to a meeting and have a civil, intellectual discussion with one another, and ensure that their freedom of speech will not be infringed upon.”
During the club’s meetings, hot-button topics are open for debate, and Kelly even encourages conversations with “no limits, to create that mutual humility that will push forth into a mutual understanding.” He believes that talking about these topics in a room without the limits of a classroom will eliminate miscommunication, misinterpretation, and fear of rejection.
As a graduating senior, Kelly hopes to lay a foundation for this club so it will grow and diversify. Despite the name, the club is not limited to Republicans. All political parties and affiliations are encouraged to join.
The club plans to host events with local politicians throughout the year. These events will be open to all, and will consist of debates and discussions on current political issues.
The Republican Club meets Mondays at 5:30 p.m. in room 408 in the School of Business and Leadership on the Owings Mills campus. Those interested in the Republican Club can contact Kelly or Dr. Joe Matanoski, faculty advisor for the club, through campus emails, or simply attend one of the weekly meetings.