Students for Trump at Brown, an organization supporting President Donald Trump and his policies, has become an officially recognized student group by the Undergraduate Council of Students and the Student Activities Office.
Late last semester, the group’s application was approved; Students for Trump at Brown then became officially recognized at the start of this semester, per UCS and SAO policy. The group aims to “spread awareness of Trump-supporters and Trump-era policies on campus,” as well as promote “fair treatment for people of all political affiliations,” according to its profile on BearSync.
The club joins a number of other candidate-specific groups on campus, including organizations supporting presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg — though it is the only club supporting a specific Republican presidential candidate.
Emma Phillips ’23, the club’s president, said that roughly 15-20 students signed up for the group initially, though the group did not table at the mid-year activities fair last week. Students for Trump at Brown has not yet held its inaugural meeting and has not yet planned events for the upcoming semester.
This group stands out on a campus where fewer than 2 percent of students polled said they would vote for Trump in a general election, according to The Herald’s 2016 fall poll.
“We’re excited to start a chapter of Students for Trump here at Brown to add to the University’s already diverse viewpoints and create a community for students who support the president and his policies,” Phillips said.
The group, Phillips added, plans to become more active on campus as the general election approaches.
The club is also affiliated with the national Students for Trump organization, Phillips said. Students for Trump is a project of Turning Point Action, the sister organization of Turning Point USA, which was founded by conservative activist Charlie Kirk.
UCS Student Activities Chair Alex Song ’20 said that the process for approval went smoothly: The SAO committee responsible for proposing new clubs to UCS voted with a two-thirds majority to bring the motion forward, and the club was approved unanimously.
“Any group with a mission that is achievable, and works within the University policy, works,” Song said in an interview with The Herald last semester.
Song also noted that the club will start as a Category I group, meaning it does not receive direct funding from UFB, but has privileges including the ability to reserve spaces on campus for events.
The group comes as a welcome addition for Julian Haag ’20, president of the Brown College Republicans, who said he expects significant collaboration between Students for Trump and the College Republicans as the election approaches.
“It’s almost automatic at this point,” Haag said. “When we get closer to the election, we’ll start doing phone banking, maybe tabling, collaborating to bring in speakers — I wouldn’t limit it to any one thing.”
Noah Pirani ’23, political director of the Brown College Democrats, said his organization also welcomes the addition of the group.
“We at Brown College Dems certainly support the inclusion of any voice on campus that desires to articulate its perspective with dignity and respect for others.”
But Pirani indicated a condition to this support. “If Students for Trump resorts to the demagoguery and the disregard for the truth that is so characteristic of the man they support, then I think it will be much harder for our two organizations to have a reasonable and productive conversation on the issues,” Pirani said.
Haag acknowledged that there could be campus backlash to vocal support for Trump.
“There’s going to be students that are completely outraged,” he said. “Once you start supporting Donald Trump, it’s like there’s no place for you here.”
— With additional reporting by Olivia George
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that as a Category I group, Students for Trump at Brown would not receive direct funding from UCS. In fact, as a Category I group, Students for Trump at Brown would not receive direct funding from UFB. The Herald regrets the error.