MU College Republicans attend Macon rally, elect board

Most members were in Macon awaiting a speech by President Obama.
Freshman Ben Niewoehner speaks to members of the MU College Republicans before the group's executive board election Tuesday night in Allen Auditorium. During the meeting, Brett Dinkins was re-elected chairman of the organization.

The MU College Republicans elected a new executive board Tuesday night, though most members were in Macon awaiting a Wednesday speech by President Barack Obama.

Eight of the nine members present at the meeting voted on five races, four of which were uncontested. Chairman Brett Dinkins did not cast a ballot and said he wanted all winners to feel they had his support.

Dinkins was re-elected chairman, senior Kelsey Mueller was elected vice chairwoman, freshman Amanda Swysgood was re-elected vice president of social affairs and freshman Katie Morrissey was re-elected secretary. Freshman Ben Niewoehner was elected treasurer over freshman Katie Carter in a 5-3 vote.

Niewoehner said he would make connections with previous College Republican members for advice. He said he had a book of fundraising ideas he used as part of many clubs in high school, but he would need to adjust them for MU.

"A lot of them catered to specific crowds," Niewoehner said. "So I need to see what works here on campus."

Dinkins added a "no vote" option to the ballot for all the executive board races. The club's constitution does not call for any kind of no-confidence option, including uncontested races, but Dinkins said any candidate worth his or her position should be able to get a majority of votes. Only one "no vote" was cast in the five races.

"It's not how we normally do it," Dinkins said. "But I want to get this year started off right with a board most people are confident in."

Members also voted to amend the group's constitution to add a permanent executive director position, by a 5-3 vote.

The previous constitution allowed the elected chairperson to create one executive board position and nominate a person to that position. That position can be any position the chairperson feels is necessary, such as a vice president of public relations.

Chairpersons have traditionally appointed someone to assume the title of executive director. The executive director serves as an assistant and adviser to the chairperson. The amendment will allow the chairperson to appoint two positions, one of which must be an executive director. Dinkins did not make any appointments Tuesday night.

Dinkins said he hesitated to hold the vote on executive director amendment with so many members absent, but he felt most of the club would agree with his decision.

"I didn't feel comfortable about it," he said. "But I feel like if anyone had severe concerns about the voting process, they would have let us know."

Despite the small number of members casting ballots, Dinkins said the vote was necessary because the executive board needed to start planning recruitment activities for Summer Welcome. He said elections are typically held in early April but have been pushed back by club and political activities.

"You can never plan anything," he said. "We need to get moving quickly because we have a lot of things to work on."

Dinkins estimated 20 to 30 club members were absent from the meeting and in Macon awaiting Obama's speech. Sophomore Megan Roberts said there had been more members in Macon during the day Tuesday. She said the students had attended a "Keep America Free" rally where Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., addressed them.

She said because Obama was speaking during the day, the speech would conflict with many students' class schedules.

Obama spoke around 1 p.m. Wednesday in Macon. The event was closed to the public.

Roberts said the students were not against Obama speaking in Missouri but wanted to voice their frustration with administration policies and legislation passed by the Democratic Congress.

"It's more protesting what's going on in Washington than what's happening in Macon, Mo.," she said.

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