DSU Conservative and Libertarian Club opens doors amid controversy
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
En route to class, students might have noticed an eye-catching poster on several bulletin boards around both campuses. Kellie Leitch, a Conservative candidate for the 2019 election, holds a Canadian Red Ensign flag. Below Leitch sits a Trump and Harper Pepe frog meme, and a woman wearing a “Make Canada Great Again” toque. At first glance, the poster incites shock and amusement, but ultimately garners interest in finding out if such a club would be so forthright.
Discussing politics can bring people closer together, but more often than not, farther apart. Alexander Emanuelli, President of DSU Conservative and Libertarian Club, hopes to bring students together to discuss politics, both right- and left-wing, in a peaceful manner.
“We are directed towards right-wing politics, but we have also always made clear that whatever your politics are, anyone is welcome to come. Granted, as of yet we haven’t had any lefties take us up on that offer. We have had some people who are politically agnostic and wanted to learn,” said Emanuelli.
“The desire to make the club came first and actually finding the people came after. The main thing I really wanted was to provide students at Douglas with a way to find out about right-wing ideas if they are new to politics, especially considering all the smears going around lately, with the election and all.”
Since its opening at the beginning of the winter 2017 semester, the DSU Conservative and Libertarian Club has been growing slowly, but steadily. Nonetheless, Emanuelli is glad to participate in political activism.
While Emanuelli assures students that club meetings will be mostly for discussions, he hopes not to scare away those who are new to politics by opening the floor for debate in whatever issues are brought to the table. Ultimately, he hopes to avoid the intensity that many might associate with outlying right-wingers in today’s society.
“There has been a fair bit of controversy over the creation of this club. When I first started promoting this club at the Winter Semester Club Day, I had several people very angrily come up to me and over the course of several exchanges they promised me that the club would not be chartered,” he explained.
Emanuelli further described how most anger was focused on the Make America Great Again hat and shirt he donned. Within the two and a half hours he represented the club, six complaints were made, a paper that said, “No Hate On My Campus” was posted outside their club door, and someone emailed them asking if they promoted harassment or harm against marginalized groups.
“I would like to say that no, we do not, and I am very grateful that the Student Union has been very supportive of our freedom of speech and freedom of expression despite the complaints our club has received,” said Emanuelli.
Though the values he has stood behind have faced adversity from some, Emanuelli heads into the remaining semester with hope for insightful discussions with a growing group of open-minded individuals. The club has yet to host any events, but should its membership flourish, Emanuelli has several ideas for the future.
The DSU Conservative and Libertarian Club meets every Wednesday and Thursday from 12:30–2:30 p.m. in Room 328 in the DSU Building at the New Westminster Campus.