This post has been updated.
A string of college Republican chapters across New York State has issued statements denouncing the state federation’s decision to revoke its recognition of the Cornell Republicans on Sunday.
The decision to revoke Cornell’s chapter came in the wake of the group’s endorsement of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson — an action the New York Federation of College Republicans called “unacceptable.” The federation said that while the group would have been within its rights to refuse to endorse nominee Donald Trump, it could not endorse another party’s candidate, The Sun previously reported.
However, in the hours following this decision, many college Republicans groups have protested that the decision to ban the Cornell Republicans violates both the federation’s constitution and a broader principle of free speech.
The Ithaca College Republicans condemned the NYFCR’s Executive Board’s decision, saying it was an “egregious violation of the NYFCR constitution” in a resolution posted to the group’s Facebook page Monday.
The constitution states that the NYFCR’s purpose is “to promote the principles of the limited government, fiscal sensibility, economic freedom and personal responsibility,” and “to aid in the election of candidates adhering to those values at every level of Government.”
Thus, the federation’s mission should be to support any candidate who has “a proven record of dedication and actions that further the goals of the Republican party and Federation,” according to the constitution. The Cornell Republicans’ endorsement message argued that Johnson better exemplifies these conservative principles than either Trump or Hillary Clinton.
“Governor Johnson’s commitment to fiscal conservatism is unparalleled,” their endorsement message says. “Governing a blue state, he shrunk the size of the government, balanced the state’s budget, and never increased taxes. While we do not agree with all of his positions, we firmly support his devotion to free trade, states’ rights, and other conservative principles.”
In their statement, the Ithaca College chapter also pointed out that there is no clause in the federation’s constitution that details the procedure for the expulsion of a member, suggesting that instead conservative groups should defer to a faith in free speech.
“As conservatives, we must respect the First Amendment right to free speech and the ability to vote and endorse any candidate,” the chapter said.
Adam Dohrenwend, president of the Geneseo College Republicans, also released a statement Monday on behalf of his chapter’s executive board, calling NYFCR’s leadership “irresponsible and heavy-handed” and its decision “hasty.”
“Not only is the action taken against Cornell unbecoming of an organization dedicated to the ideals of free speech and open discourse essential to the Republican Party, but it is also without any constitutional justification or precedent,” Dohrenwend wrote.
He added that NYFCR’s decision reflects the hostility surrounding this year’s election, especially given prominent divisions within Republican camps.
“Rather than make an effort to understand [the Cornell Republicans’] sentiment, the Federation has decided to browbeat its own members and further contribute to the divisiveness and hatred that has unfortunately been allowed to prevail this election,” Dohrenwend said.
The IC Republicans have said that they plan to “continue their positive working relationship with the Cornell University Republicans.”
Despite the support for Cornell Republicans, an NYFCR source said that, although Cornell Republicans had previously indicated they have been involved in the statewide operations, the Cornell chapter has been minimally involved and did not attend the last conference.
The source added that contrary to Cornell Republican’s statement, a member of the state federation called the Cornell chapter before their charter was revoked and explained the potential ramifications of a Johnson Endorsement.
Executive Director of Cornell Republicans Austin McLaughlin ’18 contested this story, saying he was forced to call Eli Nachmany, the NYFCR Chairman, because the board member was planning on holding an emergency vote to revoke Cornell’s chapter without consulting the club’s executive board.
“Further, he never entertained any discourse in our conversation,” McLaughlin said. “He talked as if he had already revoked recognition of us, at least in his mind.”
Neither the Ithaca College Republicans nor the Geneseo College Republicans has endorsed a candidate for president, although the Ithaca chapter previously released a statement saying that it would not support Donald Trump.