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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Adjusting the lens: Understanding FAU’s political landscape

Meet the major political organizations at FAU and hear student opinions on what the political climate is like on campus.
Images collected from @sol.fau, @tpusafau and @gopfau on Instagram.

FAU’s Boca Raton campus is home to a myriad of political organizations, and there is a tendency of the general student body to define these groups by their relationship to each other or by a single political issue or representative. This simplified categorization can overlook the diversity of views and specific objectives within each organization. 

To spotlight said diversity and objectives, the University Press (UP) created a survey regarding the political climate at FAU and opened it to the public. Readers can still participate if interested. UP reporters also requested interviews from four of the most prominent political groups. The following replied: four leads from Solidarity, the president of Turning Point USA and the treasurer of the College Republicans. College Democrats did not respond to requests for an interview. The UP was not able to confirm whether or not the group is active this semester.

Zoom out: The overall political climate

Every movement’s cause emerges from the pressures of a political climate. To understand it, one must first understand its backdrop. The UP’s survey garnered 18 responses, too small of a sample size to make any claims about the FAU student body as a whole. However, the insights gleaned from the responses point to larger issues on campus. All participating students have been verified as current FAU students, though none will be named in this article to avoid potential repercussions for their viewpoints. 

Survey Findings

Is FAU a hyper-political environment compared to other local schools?

Those who said “yes” cited political groups tabling frequently on the Breezeway, protests and the UP’s coverage of political events/problems. One student wrote, “It’s impossible not to feel the effects of state politics in a Florida university.” 

Respondents who put “maybe” noted students’ emphasis on their studies rather than politics and FAU’s preference to stay out of the limelight. “Most students prioritize their studies over politics,” one student wrote. Another student speculated that the administration and faculty have reasons for keeping politics under the radar. “FAU is being monitored by the state like other public universities and faculty may not wish to push the college into the spotlight,” the student wrote.

Finally, some flat-out said “no.” One argued that the student body is simply apathetic to politics unless “something big happens on campus (ex: the Kanye Was Right table or the campus suicide).” 

Do you feel FAU provides adequate opportunities for political engagement? 

“No, there used to be more educational spaces, but due to [Florida Governor Ron] DeSantis, things have changed,” one student wrote. Another student added, “I feel that clubs do. But if you are not a political science major, I feel that you won’t really get opportunities from FAU directly.”

“Yes,” commented another, “there are active political and activist groups on campus as well as numerous events that FAU holds to discuss political affairs (however, recent events have been more conservative like the Constitution Day panel with that former Nixon aide).” 

“Hard to tell. I feel that current political education has an overemphasis on the two-party system and how to succeed within that framework,” one student critiqued, “FAU hosts Legislative Education Advocacy Days (LEAD) in some departments, but that is largely navigating the traditional electoral college landscape and not a wide spectrum of political learning.” 

Have you ever felt uncomfortable expressing your political views on FAU campus due to fear of judgment or backlash?

Some who said “yes” cited fears that their ideas would be misunderstood by their peers: “People don’t let you explain yourself, but they paint a picture of you that they think represents you,” one student wrote, “and as a registered republican it does not mean I support every political belief that the republican party does.” 

Others cited gender and race as major factors.

“Yes, I think it’s more difficult and more dangerous the more personal the political is,” one student shared. “As a queer trans person of color (QTPOC) at FAU, my politics gets pretty personal because I can feel the effect that transphobic and racist state laws are having on myself and my own communities.” 

Meanwhile, people who answered “no” kept things fairly straightforward.

“No, I am free to express my opinion, and I think people are free to express theirs,” one wrote. Another wrote something similar, adding, “because I’m confident, there is backlash anyway.” 

Are there any specific topics or issues you wish were more addressed by FAU’s political groups or in university discussions? 

Survey respondents identified 11 key topics or issues they wish FAU and student political groups would address: University leadership, the housing crisis, abortion rights, college costs, LGBTQ rights, FAU’s ties with a private prison company, hate speech, women’s reproductive rights and climate change.

Zoom in: Three of FAU’s prominent political organizations 

Solidarity members tabling at the Owl Involved event on Aug. 25, 2023. (Image courtesy of @sol.fau on Instagram. )

Solidarity is a student organization with a mission, according to their Instagram page,  to “build socialism through direct action, mutual aid, and education at FAU.” They were established at FAU in 2020 and have 58 members on OwlCentral

“I founded Solidarity with my buddies Joao and Venus,” co-founder Lisa Ramirez wrote. “They originally had the idea to have a left-leaning student org on campus when they went to PBSC.” 

The way members identify politically varies widely. Of the 11 members who participated in the survey, here are the affiliations submitted: socialist, democratic socialist, liberal, leftist, communist, anarchist and anarchist communist. 

“We would like to create as much positive change as possible on campus and in Florida as a whole,” co-chair Logan McGraw wrote. “We have a broad range of topics we discuss that I think can appeal to anyone.” 

Solidarity meetings are held every Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the College of Education Building.

Turning Point USA members tabling at the FAU Breezeway on April 21, 2022 (Image courtesy of @tpusafau on Instagram. )

Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is a national organization whose mission is “to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote freedom.” They were established at FAU in 2015 and have 95 members on OwlCentral

Nick Coyte, president of the FAU branch, revitalized the group just a year ago. “I reached out to the organization on campus, which didn’t respond to me, so I also reached out to the national organization,” he shared. A TPUSA Florida representative replied and granted permission to restart the FAU branch in spring 2022. 

Coyte describes the organization as nonprofit and bipartisan, with a libertarian/conservative lean. The two members who participated in the UP survey described their political identity as conservative and right/maybe moderate. 

“At no point will this club, assuming I’m in control of it, be some kind of playground squabble between political, ideological differences. That is not the game, as far as I’m concerned,” Coyte emphasized.

TPUSA tables on the Breezeway on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Some FAU College Republicans members at a Trump speech at Mar-A-Lago on April 5, 2023. Image courtesy of @gopfau on Instagram.


The College Republicans (CR) have branches in many universities across the nation. They were established at FAU in 2015 and have 70 members on OwlCentral. Treasurer Nathan Mitchell claims that CR at FAU began to take off after the election of Donald Trump in 2016. 

Regarding political affiliation, Mitchell said CR is a difficult organization to define nationally. However, he describes the FAU branch as “nationalist, populist, reactionary, Christian and conservative.” No members from CR participated in the UP’s survey. 

CR had their first general body meeting on Sept. 29 where Mitchell spoke about the need to redefine conservatism in America. CR’s overall goal is “to promote traditional and truly conservative values among young college-age Republican-leaning people in order to form a more firm, zealous and overtly religious faction of the GOP for the future generations of America,” Mitchell said.

CR plans to have meetings every Friday. Meeting times and locations may vary. 

Refocusing: Clarifying goals and dissolving misconceptions

Solidarity wants to expand the general student body’s view on socialism and communism. 

“I think the most common misunderstanding about socialism/communism is that the word is still synonymous with the Soviet Union, China and Cuba. The reality is that there is a wide variety of socialisms, communisms and anarchisms,” co-delegate Ximena Dipietro said. “I believe that this misunderstanding of socialism as a monolith can be challenged by discussion and action.”

Dipietro believes Solidarity can change people’s perception of socialism from being associated with a “violent oppressive revolution” to the direct participation in economic and political affairs, just like the Democratic Socialists of America has done, albeit on a smaller scale. 

Co-secretary Savanna Sweeney echoed Dipietro’s thoughts, adding that she wants to dissolve the notion that leftists are over-sensitive and can’t have conversations. In order to achieve this, she encourages students to have a conversation with Solidarity representatives.

TPUSA’s politics emphasizes the First Amendment. “There isn’t enough free discourse,” Coyte said, “and there’s people that seek to quiet certain opinions. That happens at an institutional level at some colleges.” 

Coyte said he is exceptionally proud of his work to lessen the animosity between political groups on campus. He claimed that interactions between TPUSA and Solidarity were hostile initially, but there have been great strides on both sides to correct this.  

He also claimed to be friends with a major organizer at Solidarity. 

“I think he has made a perfectly pleasant community of people that all have a common interest, and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” he said. “Through a common discourse between the two of us, we can actually do something with our clubs rather than just having some kind of playground bickering fight that is of no use to anybody.” 

Mitchell from CR focuses on changing the way FAU students and the United States as a whole understand conservatism. 

“Republicans in general are viewed as a generically conservative and fiscally liberal faction in America. We seek to overthrow this consensus and install a Christian right wing in the GOP that overly promotes Christian values and ethics into governance,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also seemed happy with the overall perception of his group on campus so far. 

“Most people approve of us!” he exclaimed. “It surprised me to see that a lot of our generation, especially white men, openly support us and [talk] with us at table events.”

Fast forward: The future for these organizations

Solidarity’s zine distribution event was on Wednesday, Oct. 11 They will hold a used book sale at the same time and place on Wednesday, Oct. 18 Members meet in the community garden every Saturday, collaborating to provide fresh food and support for students. Leadership at Solidarity requests you refer to their Discord for the location and details. 

Solidarity has also been working with Food Not Bombs (FNB), a volunteer-based initiative to reduce food waste by sharing it with those facing food insecurity. FNB members can now face fines and jail time due to a new ordinance requiring a permit to serve food to large groups. Solidarity leadership stated they have been and will continue to protest this ordinance. 

TPUSA also anticipates hosting major events. On Oct. 23, they plan to invite stand-up comedian K-Von to campus. Other campuses have kicked out K-Von for using offensive comments during his comedy sets. 

Coyte emphasized the importance of inviting K-Von, stating that saying something others deem offensive “isn’t cause to remove somebody from the public forum.” In addition, TPUSA plans to invite speakers from the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) to present on campus. CFACT, a DC-based organization, advocates for free-market solutions to environmental issues. 

The College Republicans are  still in the planning phase, but Mitchell promises much to come. They will soon organize speaking events, including virtual conferences, rallies and in-person discussions.

Mitchell expressed his frustration with the university’s largely apolitical stance.  

“I wholeheartedly disagree with this and highly encourage political activity on campus, regardless of ideology. In this respect, we have found a lot of common ground with the far-left and Marxist Solidarity group, as they have experienced a similar reception from the faculty,” he wrote. 

All three groups agree on one thing: they want more students to engage in politics. 

Kayla Barnes is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].

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