Months of conflict and dissent within the College Republicans came to a head yesterday when Chair Amy Gershkoff ’02 resigned at their weekly meeting. Three other executive members also resigned, bringing the total to seven executive board resignations in the last four months.
Gershkoff was reacting to criticism of her leadership from members of the organization. The latest denunciation came in the form of a front page article in last Friday’s Cornell Review, Cornell’s student-run conservative newspaper.
The article, titled “‘Abrasive’ Amy Taken to Task,” was an interview with New York College Republicans Chair Brett Mekum. Mekum is quoted as saying that Gershkoff “is not a team player … she has to learn that she can’t go over people’s heads to get what she wants” and that “her attitude is a problem.”
“This is a battle between The Review and the College Republicans,” Gershkoff said during her 20 minute resignation speech. Gershkoff has written and edited articles for The Review in the past.
The College Republicans are the largest college republican group in New York state. “We have built this organization to over 600 members,” said Lee Rudofsky ’01.
College Republicans criticized Gershkoff for supporting what they termed “moderate Republicans” in local elections, as well as for her leadership style.
“They have accused me of being dictatorial,” Gershkoff said.
Gershkoff concluded her speech with, “If you are willing to fight for Republican ideals, come join me. We will reconvene outside under the name Leaders for Lazio.” Of approximately 50 people in the room, half followed Gershkoff and two other former executive board members.
Three executive board members remained of the original 10. The remaining College Republicans appeared stunned after Gershkoff’s exit.
“I think it’s a shame that members couldn’t be here to hear the arguments on all sides,” said Cornell Review Chancellor Joe Sabia grad.
The remaining members discussed what had happened in the past few weeks and what would happen next for the organization.
“We had two issues with her,” said Rudofsky, one of the former executive board members. “One was political, the other was a mixture of political and personal.”
Rudofsky resigned three weeks ago because of conflicts with Gershkoff. “She just wouldn’t listen to any of us,” he said. “[We were] being told not to ask questions.”
“I think it’s a disgrace that she up and left,” Sabia said. “Stay here, hash it out, have debates. Don’t just leave.”
“Don’t you think you were kind of rude?” an audience member asked Sabia.
“You criticize our tactics here,” Sabia responded. “We are a conservative newspaper, not a Republican newsletter.”
“As a conservative paper, we had issues, so we printed up an article,” added Cornell Review Editor-in-Chief Brian Fiske ’01. “We came here for open, honest debate. She didn’t want that.”
“We feel she sold out the party in order to gain personally … to get publicity. She traded away some of our values in order to get people to come [to College Republicans meetings],” Rudofsky said. “That just leaves us with a room full of people who don’t have the same beliefs we do.”
“It’s unfortunate that a political group can’t get along,” said Cornell Democrats President Mike Moschella ’02. “We wanted to debate them. Hopefully, we’ll be able to.”
“Am I upset with her? Absolutely. Do I think she did the wrong thing by leaving? Absolutely,” Rudofsky said.
“We were spending all our time fighting The Review. That doesn’t leave us any time to fight the left,” Gershkoff said.
Archived article by Maggie Frank