California College Republicans releases 2018 platform, prompting community pushback

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Content warning: Anti-transgender language

The California College Republicans, or CCR, released its 2018 platform this month, outlining its stance on a number of hot-button issues including free speech at universities, college tuition and diversity training programs.

The release of the platform has prompted pushback from multiple campus organizations and community members. CCR is a statewide organization with representation at many college campuses — Berkeley College Republicans, or BCR, is its chapter at UC Berkeley.

BCR External Vice President Bradley Devlin said in an email that the CCR platform is in line with “prevailing ideologies within the Republican Party.”

CCR spokesperson and member of the National Association of Parliamentarians Kimo Gandall emphasized, among several platform focuses, the group’s opposition to the funding of “ethnic programs” that are limited to particular minority groups at campuses such as UC Berkeley. He said these programs exclude white students, making the programs discriminatory. Gandall added that diversity must form naturally and should not be coerced by government-funded programs.

Gandall said university-mandated diversity training programs are also “squashing conservative ideology” and promoting the demonization of conservative ideas. CCR insists that universities refrain from mandatory diversity training programs, referring to them as “pure indoctrination sessions.”

ASUC Senator Amir Wright said the very diversity programs CCR condemns are necessary for students to feel a sense of belonging on campus. Wright said resource centers — such as those for Black communities — provide places where people from those groups can be their “authentic selves.”

“If I didn’t have the Black community on campus, I wouldn’t have anywhere to go,” Wright said. “We need the support of the community to succeed here.”

Wright said he hopes that BCR is more accepting and open when addressing issues regarding diversity and inclusion than CCR is in its platform.

The platform also states that CCR condemns funding “transgenderism,” referring to it as a mental illness and to members of the community as a “degenerate” class. Gandall said any services for transgender students should not be financially supported by universities and must be privately funded. He said that although he views gender reassignment operations as “unnatural” and “unhealthy,” those seeking these services should be allowed to receive them as long as they are not funded by taxpayers.

Regarding college tuition, CCR said in the platform that it strongly opposes proposals for tuition-free public college and subsidized student loans, as it runs counter to the organization’s principles of individual liberty and minimal control by central government.

Devlin said that in contrast to CCR, BCR focuses particularly on issues related to free speech. He said BCR encourages students to come and engage in weekly meetings, inviting groups such as the Cal Berkeley Democrats to participate in open debates.

In the platform, CCR references conservative author Ben Shapiro’s visit to UC Berkeley in September 2017. CCR said the campus forced BCR to pay $600,000 for Shapiro’s security bill in an attempt to “squelch our free speech.”

But the University of California and UC Berkeley paid the $600,000 security fee — not BCR. Sandra Messick, spokesperson for the UC Berkeley Division of Equity and Inclusion, said no student group has been asked to pay for security costs, which fall under the campus’s responsibilities.

“The University of California, Berkeley will maintain, as it always has, an unwavering commitment to free speech, as well as the right and ability of our student organizations to bring speakers of their choice to campus,” Messick said.

With midterm elections approaching, Devlin said CCR’s platform conveys the party’s goals for both the upcoming elections and the coming academic year. He added that BCR will back Republicans and their policies in the Bay Area to improve “our terribly mismanaged state.”

“BCR will continue to spearhead the national fight for free speech and against academic bias,” Devlin said.

Contact Sabina Mahavni at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sabina_mahavni.