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Tea Party Credit: Maanvi Singh , Maanvi Singh

Nearly a year after 2010 Graduate School of Education graduate Daniel Chinburg started Penn’s Tea Party branch, the movement died as quickly as it came.

Although the Penn Tea Party held a number of events last year — including a debate with self-proclaimed libertarian and Wharton senior Emma Perkins, a debate with the Penn Democratic Socialists and a speaker event — turnout was consistently low. Fifteen students showed up at the Penn Democratic Socialist debate, and the Chinburg and Perkins debate welcomed an audience of just four students.

Chinburg believes that the Penn Tea Party is defunct because students are fearful of having opinions that “are not in line with the political correctness that’s rampant across campus.”

In an Oct. 1, 2010 article of The Daily Pennsylvanian, Chinburg said he founded the movement at Penn because he “realized there was a huge potential for college outreach.”

In the same article, College junior Cameron Mathis wrote in an email that the Penn Tea Party was created last year to “make young persons more aware of America’s political and governmental system.” Mathis was unable to be reached for comment regarding the Party’s recent disbanding.

Perkins believes the party’s dissolution is natural. “I think it mattered in the first place that something like this could happen on Penn campus,” she said. “But if the student response isn’t there, then there is no point in keeping a party or organization going.”

Another explanation for the group’s decline on Penn’s campus, Chinburg said, is that the media’s poor portrayal of the Tea Party may have affected Penn students’ willingness to join the movement. “They keep presenting us as a movement that is uneducated and that’s not true,” he said.

Chinburg recalled an incident while flyering on Locust Walk last year. Chinburg said a student approached him, saying “Yeah, give me one of these [flyers], I’m interested in the Tea Party.” But when a DP photographer snapped a shot of the two together, Chinburg said, the student immediately backed out, saying he “didn’t want that in the paper.”

“Someone coming out as a conservative or a libertarian on campus is harder than coming out as a homosexual,” Chinburg said.

College senior Isabel Friedman, president of the Penn Democrats, said the Penn Tea Party’s disbanding was expected. “The Tea Party enjoyed their hey-day back in 2010,” she said. “But now many of their former supporters have realized that their candidates — Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and the like — are hyper-partisan radicals who’d be poor advocates of our country’s best interests.”

Friedman added that “Penn students are smart enough to see past the sideshow aspect of their platform.”

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