For many Republicans at Stony Brook University, their right to exercise their political affiliation only took place at the voting booth. Unlike some Democrats who proudly wore pins and held signs on campus cheering “Barack the Vote,” the Republicans were nowhere to be found.
Alex Chamessian, editor-in-chief of the Patriot, explained the reason behind the silence of the Republican voice on campus. “There is a fear you hold to these Republican sentiments,” Chamessian said. “Unless you want to be ostracized by your peers.”
On election night, the College Republicans and students affiliated with the school’s conservative newspaper, The Patriot, came together in the Student Activities Center Ballroom B to follow the election coverage on ABC News and to freely express their choice of candidate.
The numbers were small, about 20 to 30 students, but almost everyone voted for Sen. John McCain, and if they did not they were supportive of those who had. For most of the night, many students gritted their teeth and watched the projection screen facing the numbers. Others didn’t bother to watch and conversed with other students.
It seemed that some of the students who were members of the College Republicans came to terms with the idea of Sen. Barack Obama being president of the United States.
“I will love this country despite who the president is,” Chamessian said. “I will not denounce this country based on who the president is. When asked what he would do if Obama was elected president, Ben Edolati a senior and Political Science major said, “The sun will still come up.”
What is significant about the College Republicans was not its desire for McCain to be president, but its inability to express its belifs throughout the course of this campaign. “If campus was evenly split there wouldn’t be a need for this,” Edolati said.
Allison Goldberg, a junior and president of the College Republicans wore a McCain pin on her backpack throughout the course of the day. “I got a couple of dirty looks for that.”
“Dirty looks” are only one of the many things that have kept republicans from being open about their views. Brittany Klenofsky and Kalya Lacci were friends for a while and never shared their political affiliations in fear the other would be critical of her republican views.
“You just rather not talk about it. Sometimes it’s not even with it,” Klenofsky said. Klenofsky’s sister, a teacher on Long Island, had her car keyed during the weeks of the election. “I can only assume it’s because she has a Sarah Palin sticker on her car.”
Cars seem to be the targets among a few Republican students. Edolati made a point to take his McCain and Palin sticker off his car before coming to class today. “I like my car, and would hate to see it get scratched up, especially for something as stupid as politics.”
Connor Harigan, a commuter at Stony Brook, found his car in the Stony Brook South P lot scratched up. He had Republican bumper stickers on his car. These claims have not yet been substantiated by the police.
The idea that Republicans are feeling unable to express their views in a very liberal environment seemed to be a very big issue according to the conservative side. “It is unfortunate people feel that way,” said Adam Peck, a Democrat and supporter of Obama.
“We’ve been talking to McCain supporters all day,” Peck said. He said that when he was campaining in Pennsylvania, he also experienced political tensions between parties and found it difficult for him to exercise his political beliefs without being frowned upon.