College Republicans, ASILI Will Partner Again


Zaro and Mgbenwelu will be organizing an event in continuation of their October dialogue on race and politics. (Courtesy of Andrew Esoldi)


Zaro and Mgbenwelu will be organizing an event in continuation of their October dialogue on race and politics. (Courtesy of Andrew Esoldi)

Zaro and Mgbenwelu will be organizing an event in continuation of their October dialogue on race and politics. (Courtesy of Andrew Esoldi)

For the second time this year, the College Republicans and ASILI, the black students alliance group at Fordham, will co-sponsor an event. Entitled “Continuing the Dialogue: Decriminalization of Drugs & Affirmative Action,” the event is scheduled for Thursday, April 10 at 1 p.m. in Hughes Hall room 208. It will serve as a continuation of last year’s dialogue between the two organizations, which focused on dismantling the barriers between race and politics.

Following last year’s dialogue, which proved to be a highly successful collaborative effort, Tochi Mgbenwelu, FCRH ’15, and president of ASILI, and Luke Zaro, FCRH ’16 ,and president of the College Republicans, decided to narrow down the discussion for the upcoming event to “hot topics” that continue to be sources of contention in the development of new legislation in Washington.

This week, Chinese-American activists are protesting a measure that would serve to reinstate affirmative action in admissions to California’s public universities, causing backlash from democrats in the Capitol who were in support of the measure. At the same time, Maryland is expected to be the next state to decriminalize marijuana.

“This year, we looked for specific topics that involved racial demographics, but were determined in the political sphere,” said Zaro. “We feel that affirmative action and the decriminalization of drugs serve as good crossroads for race and politics, and hope a unique conversation between our distinctive groups will produce a nuanced enough discussion that respects and reflects the complexity of these racial-political issues.”

Recent political polling shows a definite trend in race and political affiliation, and current events continuously spark controversy that the Republican Party is out of touch with the African-American community in the United States. Zaro voiced sincere hope that the notion of Republican and African-American political ideals as irreconcilable is eradicated — well, at least on campus.

“It is no secret that the Republican Party has struggled in recent years to portray the conservative message to the African-American community in an attractive and effective manner,” said Zaro.  “However, Tochi and I had a great discussion last year with another member of ASILI about conservatism and the black community. In theory, there is no reason that ASILI and College Republicans cannot only share an amicable relationship, but also share membership.”

The active effort of the College Republicans and ASILI to provide an environment where both sides can discuss topics at the forefront of politics can certainly be seen as a step in the right direction.

“I love the fact that our two clubs are able to come together and have a healthy dialogue discussing topics that individuals feel strongly about,” said Mgbenwelu. “I also appreciate the fact that our members use this as an opportunity to learn rather than condemn.”

Both club leaders hope that the student body will benefit from hearing both sides of the argument on these polarizing topics.

“Often times people have only one perspective on political events, so bringing in two clubs that are fundamentally different — one political-based, one race-based — will hopefully provide an insight into all the nuances of these sensitive and complex matters.”

Laura Sanicola is Assistant News Editor at The Fordham Ram.