For college Republican chapters at Penn and across the country, November’s presidential election poses an existential question: whether or not to support their party’s nominee.
While chapters at Penn State and Harvard have publicly chosen to not endorse Trump, a 1968 Wharton graduate, the affiliate at his alma mater has not made a decision yet.
Penn College Republicans President and College and Wharton senior Jennifer Knesbach said the Penn College Republicans will be making a statement about a presidential endorsement during the fall semester.
But some members of the group have already stated their dissatisfaction with the nominee.
Executive Director of the College Republicans and College senior Matthew Shapiro said he will not support the nominee due to his position on trade and comments about the parents of slain United States Army Captain Humayun Khan.
“I would say at this point in time I am most likely to vote for Hillary Clinton, not because I like her or most of her policy stances, but rather because I truly am fearful of the damage that Donald Trump could wreak upon our country,” Shapiro said. “I fear that the world could become a much more dangerous place.”
The decision to not endorse Trump made history at some schools, such as Harvard, where for the first time in 128 years the group did not support the GOP nominee.
“The rhetoric he espouses — from racist slander to misogynistic taunts — is not consistent with our conservative principles, and his repeated mocking of the disabled and belittling of the sacrifices made by prisoners of war, Gold Star families, and Purple Heart recipients is not only bad politics, but absurdly cruel,” the Harvard Republican Club said in a statement.
The group also called upon other College Republicans to withdraw their support for Trump, though not all have taken up the call.
At Yale University and the University of Notre Dame, the College Republican chapters have announced they will endorse the nominee.
“While not every member of our organization supported Trump in the primary, as an organization and branch of the GOP we support Republicans up and down the ballot,” the Yale College Republicans said in a statement. “And yes, that includes supporting Donald Trump for president. We remain dedicated to achieving victory in the White House, here in Connecticut, and in our hometowns.”
Soon after Yale’s endorsement, some College Republicans on the executive board there resigned and denounced the organization’s decision. The former board members created a new organization called Yale New Republicans.
As of early August, Princeton’s College Republicans have not yet taken a position on whether to endorse Trump.
Penn College Republicans Chief of Staff and Wharton sophomore Owen O’Hare, who has also denounced Trump, said the rise of Trump has him concerned about the future of the Republican Party.
“I think the Republican Party will really need to disavow Trump to reestablish itself as a serious party after this,” O’Hare said. “Hopefully, as well, we don’t see a repeat of what we saw during the Obama administration where so much of the Republican party is dedicated to attacking the other side rather than offering constructive solutions.”
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