College Republicans

Photo Credit: Aaron Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

In poll data released last week, the Pew Research Center reported 61 percent of Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party aged 18 to 29 favor the legal marriage of same-sex couples, as opposed to the 27 percent aged 50 and older.

College Republicans, a conservative student group on campus, adheres to the official ideology of the GOP, according to Zach Berberich, accounting junior and communications director for the organization. Berberich said students coming into UT tend to have a high respect for individual liberty.

“College students tend to come in with really libertarian viewpoints,” Berberich said. “A lot of students think it’s not the government’s job to intervene at all in marriage. A lot of us tend to say ‘it’s not our business. As long as it’s not hurting us, then let it be.’”

Steph Salazar, social work sophomore and co-community relations chair of Queer People of Color and Allies, said she hasn’t seen a major shift in conservative opinion. 

“I’ve noticed a change in my lifetime, but I don’t see the conservative community as a total ally to the LGBTQ community,” Salazar said. “While certain conservative folks are doing a great job as queer advocates individually, overarching legislation about the well-being of queer bodies in this country says otherwise.”

Cody Jo Bankhead, broadcast journalism senior and communications director for the UT chapter of Young Conservatives of Texas, said the organization doesn’t have an official stance on the issue of same-sex marriage.

The increase in social liberalism within young Republican groups also extends to same-sex adoption. The poll reports that 18 percent of conservatives under 30 and 59 percent for conservatives aged 50 and up consider same-sex couples raising children as “bad for society.”

Michelle Willoughby, government junior and communications director for University Democrats, said she can see the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide from her interactions with political groups at UT.

“In past debates with College Republicans, we’ve definitely seen them take a more favorable stance towards the LGBT community than their party does as a whole,” Willoughby said. “I think that the fact that young people on both sides of the aisle are finding some common ground of this issue shows that legalizing gay marriage is going to happen sooner or later.”

Junior English major Zach Guerinot stands in support of Palestine during a protest Monday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

As the Israel-Gaza crisis becomes increasingly violent, people around the world and on the UT campus are paying more attention to it. Members of the UT community on multiple sides of the issue voiced their opinions Monday.

Roughly 20 students from the UT chapter of the International Socialist Organization and Palestine Solidarity Committee marched across campus Monday in support of residents of Gaza. They walked through the East, West and Main Malls as well as the halls of the Beauford H. Jester Center and the Student Activity Center chanting, “Free, free Palestine. Occupation is a crime.” Meanwhile, roughly 45 students from six organizations tabled on the West Mall in support of Israel.

These six organizations were Texans for Israel; College Republicans; Chabad Jewish Student Organization; Alpha Epsilon Pi, a fraternity that works to provide opportunities for Jewish men; the Latino and Jewish Student Coalition; and Texas Hillel, an educational Jewish center. 

The International Socialist Organization and Palestine Solidarity Committee set up tables on the West Mall as well.

Advocates on both sides of the issue worked to attract passing students to their table.

Tracy Frydberg, Middle Eastern studies and liberal arts honors sophomore and head of campus relations for Texans for Israel, said she has family in Israel and came out to support them and the other Israelis in fear for their lives.

She said the organization’s main goal in tabling was to better inform students of the issues surrounding the conflict.

“We are here to clarify, to answer questions, to be here as a resource for students on campus and to explain the issue and what is happening right now,” Frydberg said.

Frydberg said the more vocal approach to the situation taken by students from the International Socialist Organization and Palestine Solidarity Committee seemed ineffective to her as it didn’t educate people on the issues.

“We are not going to be doing anything like this,” Frydberg said. “These people are not here to clarify the situation. They are not explaining what is happening.”

Jonathon Orta, Latin American studies senior and member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, said drawing more attention to the issue is necessary.

“It forces a dialogue to happen, and a dialogue that happens is often uncomfortable for some people,” Orta said. “Just as when the South was segregated, you had these protesters of the Civil Rights Movement fighting for integration, but those conversations had to happen ... the same conversations are what we are trying to have happen at UT.”

Journalism professor Robert Jensen spoke at the protest in support of the people of Gaza. He said the public must fully educate themselves on the issue since the situation’s history is essential for full understanding.

“You cannot understand what is happening in Gaza today without understanding one central fact — the occupation of Palestine by Israel,” Jensen said.

Ben Mendelson, government and liberal arts honors junior and chief financial officer for College Republicans, said he believes standing with Israel is an issue of safety, not politics.

“I don’t think it is an issue of political party,” Mendelson said. “There is overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle for American support of Israel.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and other politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have come out in support of Israel’s right to defend itself.

Protesters on both sides of the issue said they will be working more this week to advocate for their causes through similar efforts.