After several years of maintaining a quiet presence on campus, the Notre Dame College Republicans begin the school year with a new administration that hopes to be more active, both on and off campus, in 2010. Club President and Rover Politics editor Josh Varanelli, Vice President Guillermo Pi, Secretary Amanda Randolph, , and Treasurer Michael DeJaegher,  have several events and activities planned as the year rolls along.

First and foremost are the upcoming midterm elections, in which Republicans are striving to gain seats in Congress. Given President Obama’s low approval rating and widespread public discontent with Democratic economic policy, Republicans across the country are hope for a turnaround, with the GOP gaining majority in the House and possibly the Senate. In hopes of furthering such a cause, the College Republicans plan to disseminate information about important national and local races, including Indiana’s Senate race and the contest in Indiana’s Second Congressional District. The club’s officers have been in contact with representatives for Dan Coats, the Republican nominee for Senate, and Jackie Walorski, the party’s nominee for Indiana’s Second Congressional District. The club plans to volunteer at events, canvass door-to-door, and phone bank for both candidates.

In order to maximize voter turnout, the College Republicans will also provide voter registration and absentee ballot information to the club’s members.

Last year, the club’s Troop Drive raised hundreds of dollars from students and faculty on campus and assembled Christmas care packages to American troops in Afghanistan. This year the group plans to have another fundraiser to benefit a military or veterans organization.

Seeking to enhance the organization’s appeal, College Republican leadership is focusing on constructing a more engaging club atmosphere. A new club logo has been designed, and a new line of merchandise will be offered. Taking past club activity into account, the officers of ND College Republicans wish to revitalize campus presence and involvement. Having held what new President Josh Varanelli calls a “laughable” number of general meetings last year, the group is now aiming to excite and motivate members into political involvement. Varanelli told The Rover, “College Democrats won Club of the Year last year and, by all means, they deserved it. They were constantly active, perfectly organized, and loud enough to be clearly present at Notre Dame. The GOP supporters on this campus deserve a similar sense of group charisma. We’re not just a party of stuffy, 70-year-old rich white men.”

The club’s Education Committee, established last year, will continue to provide information on policy matters to its members. Updates on big political issues are already being posted on the committee’s Facebook page, and discussions of major current events are included at every meeting. Andrew Clark, the committee’s chairman, has begun exploring the possibility of starting a conservative book group so club members can read and discuss conservative ideas from the past and present together.

In September, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is planning a trip to Notre Dame to discuss his documentary on Pope John Paul II. The dialogue between Gingrich and the University was initiated by club member Taylor Popplewell, who saw Gingrich speak while she was interning this summer. The speaker’s appearance on campus has since turned into a fully-sponsored event by the Center for Ethics and Culture.

Mickey Gardella is a sophomore from New Jersey.  Contact him at