Divided we fall
The President of the College Republicans responds to a post-election incident
I would like to begin by saying that I am deeply sorry that you had to undergo this pain — both near-physical and emotional. I, along with all of my Republican friends, do not condone racism or discrimination of any kind. I am proud to be a member of the party that is the home of Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest proponents of civil rights in our nation’s history. I fully agree that the individuals who acted in this way should be approached in a peaceful manner so that all parties involved can have a better understanding of how these words and actions can have a detrimental effect on our society.
Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing who these individuals were. I wish I did, and I am more than willing to cooperate with you, the University Police and any other interested party to find the individuals who committed these acts. I’ll need a better description of the individuals to even begin to identify them, though even then I don’t know that I would be able to do so as we had left Trinity by the time the incident occurred.
Looking back on the night, I can confidently say that there were no College Republicans remaining in Trinity at the time this event occurred. Our reservation at Trinity ended at 11:30 p.m., a full hour before the incident that you have described. Nearly all of the major networks had called the election by 11:20, and at that point, people began to file out of the room. We had lost and there was no reason to stay. By 12:15, a couple of my friends and I were the last College Republicans remaining. I checked with the manager to ensure that we had met our minimal sales for the evening and we left. I was in bed by 12:30, as were many other Republicans that evening.
One thing I do know: Within 5 minutes of the election being called for President Obama, a number of Democrats barged into our Watch Party chanting “Four More Years” and “Obama” and accusing the people present as being bigots. This unprovoked incident nearly started an altercation within Trinity, but the members of the College Republicans refused to engage. We then requested that they leave because it was a private party. If an altercation had occurred involving the College Republicans, it seems to me that this would have been the time, but that simply was not the case. It is also my understanding that many of these Democrats did not leave, but stayed since the College Republicans began to depart at that time.
Again, I am deeply sorry for the incident that occurred. I have already conducted a brief investigation into the events that occurred Tuesday evening and I will continue to see what information I can glean. From what I have gathered thus far, all of the College Republicans had left by about 11:45-midnight, but there were several individuals not associated with the College Republicans who came in once our reservation had ended at 11:30. I had one College Republican tell me that she had been yelled at by people on the balcony when she left at 11:45, which suggests that these incidents were not the actions of College Republicans, but rather individuals not associated with the club. We wish we had a better idea of who these individuals were so that we could start a dialogue with them about these events.
As you eloquently said, our community does not need to be divided in this way. If we are going to continue to be a prosperous and successful nation, we must come together as one. This is why I and the entire College Republicans at the University are willing to work with you and others to better understand ways in which we can ensure that events like this do not happen in the future. Racism and discrimination must not be condoned within our community to any degree. I look forward to working with you on this matter.
Matt Wertman is Chairman, College Republicans at UVA.