A chapter of Republicans Overseas has been established in St Andrews following coordination with the main branch of Republicans Overseas in the UK.
Drew Liquerman, a second-year and the first of 16 founding members of the new club, said that the group was established to promote a conservative perspective in St Andrews.
“In a time where free speech is stifled by both progressive academia and students on many college campuses, we felt it was important to reaffirm conservatism’s place on campus and provide an avenue for positive and diverse political discourse,” he said in an email to The Saint.
While the group was officially founded at the end of last November, its first event took place just two weeks ago. The club held a party celebrating the inauguration of Donald Trump, which happened while most students were away for winter break.
Mr Liquerman and the Republicans Overseas have made open discourse and spirited debate a priority. Students who were originally opposed to the function were formally invited to have a conversation with members of the club.
Around fifty members and non-members attended the celebration, which took place at Aikman’s Bar on 31 January.
The St Andrews chapter is an official branch of Republicans Overseas, meaning it carries the support of both the national and international arms of the organisation. Mr Liquerman expressed high hopes for the relationship between St Andrews and larger branches.
“We hope it will help us become the official voice of the GOP in Scotland while also supporting and getting support from a central organisation,” he said.
“As a society, in addition to holding more events for our members, we hope to become the voice of Republicans in an area of the world where they seem to be all but gone. We, however, have proven this untrue with such a large turnout in such a small town.”
The group currently does not charge for membership because of financial support from private donors, and it plans to continue this practice.
The new chapter of Republicans Overseas is not the same as an organisation called “Republicans Abroad-St Andrews,” which has a Facebook group created in 2011. Although there are about fifty members in the group, the page is largely inactive.
According to an October statement made by Director of Student Development and Activities Caroline Christie, a Republican group began the process of affiliating with the Students’ Association in September of 2016 but did not progress beyond this point.
Mr Liquerman says there are currently no plans to affiliate with the Students’ Association.
He emphasised that this chapter is not specifically for students of St Andrews. The group encourages full-time residents of any age to participate in discussions and events.
There are no longer any politically conservative groups associated with the Union after the St Andrews Unionist and Conservative Society disaffiliated last September.
The controversial group was in the middle of Union-mandated reform after a Saint investigation revealed that society leadership encouraged fraudulent voting practices in their 2016 AGM.