Rumors of clash with Anti-fascist group spur large turnout for College Republicans meeting

To be a Republican on the University of Oregon campus is against the norm, and the UO College Republicans are no strangers to backlash for their political beliefs and actions.  

On Feb. 16 in Lillis Hall, the College Republicans held their weekly meeting, only this particular meeting came with anticipation of open voiced opposition from Eugene’s anti-fascist group, Antifa. College Republicans were told that Antifa would be at their meeting via Facebook.

Earlier in the day Antifa had shared a post from the College Republican’s Facebook page that asked about bringing Milo Yiannopoulos, the controversial journalist and former Breitbart editor, to speak at the university.

Eugene-Springfield: Shut this down before it starts,” Antifa commented.

“It makes me want to gather more of the community and show that we’re here and our voice matters just as much as theirs,” club chairman Justin Myhre said in regards to the comments from Antifa. “Your voice does matter, but so does ours.”

Last week’s meeting had the largest turnout all term. Members believed that anticipation of the possible clash was the cause for the large turnout. Despite multiple Facebook comments, Antifa never showed, and the College Republicans held a normal, yet slightly more popular meeting.

Club member Nicholas Duerst is not a regular at the meetings, but was encouraged by friends to attend this particular meeting to see how the evening might pan out.

“I figured it would be cool to see what’s up,” said Duerst,  “and if they do come it will be kind of like entertainment.”

Myhre wants to create a space for UO conservatives to come together and share their beliefs with like-minded individuals.

“There’s LGBT members, there’s people of color, international students — I love that,” said Myhre. “That’s where all the knowledge is. They help us flourish. Without them, we wouldn’t be a club, we’d just be a bunch of white people, and that’s not the face that I want for the republican party in the future.”

The main controversy surrounded possible efforts to bring Yiannopoulos back to UO’s campus. Yiannopoulos spoke on campus last May. Earlier this month Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley, but protests from university students and community members ended up canceling the event. Yiannopoulos received widespread criticism for his recent comments on pedophilia, which lost him his most recent book deal. He resigned from Breitbart on Tuesday. He made the controversial comments after the College Republicans meeting.

UO senior and College Republican member Samantha Smith says they will not be inviting Yiannopoulos anymore and are looking to bring in Ben Shapiro instead.

Eugene Antifa’s goal is to shut down any cases of white supremacy, racism or overall intolerance in the community, and publicly posted on their Facebook page urging members to rally together at Thursday’s College Republicans meeting in order to prevent the invitation of Yiannopoulos.

“If they come to our meetings and have a lively discussion I would love that,” said Myhre. “I would love to entertain a discussion.”

The University of Oregon College Republicans meet every Thursday in Lillis 175 at 6 p.m., and welcome discussion from students off all backgrounds. Antifa can be found on Facebook and Twitter @EugeneAntifa.

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Natalie Waitt-Gibson

Natalie Waitt-Gibson