Club plans on getting involved on campus and beyond
News | Jon Westmark
Club members listen to Bethel College Republican president Paul Hultgren as he discusses the club's new structure. | Photos for The Clarion courtesy of Bethel College Republicans
After a long hiatus, the Bethel College Republicans reorganized their club with a new constitution, new elected officials and an announcement of increased involvement with the statewide organization in a meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 27.
The group met sporadically three times prior to this year’s presidential election, but when current club president Paul Hultgren returned from studying abroad this semester, he and a small group of others who share his passion for politics decided to get organized. “During the election we were kind of missing in action or occupied with other things,” he said. “It fell apart so we’re just trying to restart it.”
They wanted to do it the right way. “We’re trying to be more formal and professional – more of a legitimate club rather than just a bunch of dudes and a few girls that get together and do political things,” Hultgren said. The small party drafted a new constitution, adapting and amending the St. Thomas and Carthage College versions to make it something unique to Bethel’s group. Following Robert’s Rules of Order – a formal structure for moving through motions, elections and votes – the group presented and ratified the constitution and elected an executive committee.
Andrew Hasek, the chairman of St. Thomas’ chapter of College Republicans, attended the meeting and spoke about his campaign to be the chair of the Minnesota College Republicans. Since taking over as St. Thomas’ leader last April, Hasek, a junior, has helped the St. Thomas chapter grow considerably, tripling the group’s email list, increasing meeting attendance from five to 60 and privately fundraising $1,200.
Hasek has selected Bethel sophomore Zach Berry to serve on his platform committee. Berry, who was also elected as secretary of the Bethel chapter, will join eight other college students from around the state to propose and edit ideas for Hasek’s campaign, and if Hasek is elected, will help bounce ideas off of him during the one year term.
After a frustrating failure to organize an event for the presidential debate last fall, Berry feels like the group is finally moving in the right direction. “The club was at a pretty apathetic stage,” he said. “We were there, sure, but in terms of our motivation, nothing, absolutely nothing.”
Being nominated to Hasek’s platform committee was a pleasant bonus, but Berry hopes that the connections with Hasek, whether he wins the state chair or not, will lead to partnerships and collaborations with other chapters.
Hasek also hinted that there was a good chance that, if he is elected, one of his three vice chairs will come from Bethel.
For Hasek, networking and helping build other groups not only develops camaraderie between Republicans at different schools, but it is also a crucial part of his campaign. The chair is voted upon by delegates from across the Minnesota chapters, and the number of delegates from each chapter is determined by the overall size and strength of the group. The candidate’s running platform has less to do with conservative philosophy – as the chair must abide by the state Republican platform – and more to do with effectiveness in growing the organization.
Whether Hasek’s campaign is successful or not, Berry is excited for the future of the club at Bethel. “It’s just great that now we have this passion, the drive and the motivation,” he said. “So now we’re just setting fire.”