College Republicans vote unanimously against capital punishment in Kansas

Laura Meyers is the chairwoman of the Kansas State University College Republicans and a junior in mass communications. (George Walker | The Collegian)

The Kansas Federation of College Republicans announced its unanimous call for a resolution to repeal Kansas’ death penalty law on Thursday, despite the generally conservative party’s traditional view on the issue.

Broken from their “mother party,” on the question of capital punishment, Kansas College Republicans are faced with external conflict from Republican lawmakers.

That being said, the Kansas Federation of College Republication’s secretary and K-State’s Federation of College Republicans chapter president, Laura Meyers, junior in mass communications, said the difference in opinion between the national Republican party and the college Republican Party can be seen as a point of strength for the Republican Party.

As a whole, the party’s younger members’ opposing view on capital punishment may serve as a reminder that this may be a time for change.

“There’s a kind of change happening within the Republican Party,” Meyers said. “So, basically, millennials kind of have different points of view than some of the older more traditional conservatives, but we just look at the right to life as the universal policy, and that even includes the death penalty.”

Meyers said breaking away from the unapplied ideas of previous generations of Republicans can help get the ball of progress rolling for present and future generations.

“Older conservatives say they want smaller governments, but in a lot of different areas they kind of don’t, because they kind of come up with the opposite,” Meyers said. “There’s a larger wave of younger Republicans that support keeping the government out of marriage, support legalization, support abolishing the death penalty because we’re trying to streamline the philosophy that individuals can govern themselves better than other people can govern them.”

Though the vote among College Republicans in Kansas was unanimous against the death penalty, it is inevitable that the group will still be torn on the issue.

“I’m just kind of shocked, I guess, because usually Republicans are more for it (the death penalty), as far as I know. I’m more traditional, so I think it’s a little weird that even other younger Republicans are really thinking differently about it,” Lucy Crowder, freshman in architecture, said.

An execution has not occurred in Kansas since 1965. Evan Steckler, sophomore in pre-professional architectural engineering and member of the K-State College Republicans, said this could be a key component in the thinking of College Republicans who voted for a resolution to repeal capital punishment from state law.

“I saw that in their (Kansas College Republicans) press release on Facebook, they pointed out that it often costs the state a lot of money to go through the appeals processes and everything else that’s associated with the death penalty,” Steckler said. “It often times takes a really long time when there are cases that are involving the death penalty, so it does make sense, if it takes such a long time, if it costs the State a ton of money, to certainly look into abolishing the death penalty.”

Though Steckler clarified that he does not fully agree with Kansas College Republicans who voted to move against capital punishment, he explained that he supports the group’s independent developments.

“I definitely would not endorse a decision to denounce the death penalty, but it’s good to see that they are getting these ideas going, that they’re not afraid of defying the national GOP, that they’re not afraid of staking their own path and becoming their own entity.”

Meyers said one of the College Republicans’ hopes for the future is to achieve what Republicans before them haven’t by bringing fresh ideas to the table.

“We just believe that everybody has a right to life, and giving the government the power to put citizens to death isn’t something that we really want,” Meyers said. “That really puts the power in somebody else’s hands, and the right to life is universal.”

Hey there! I'm Danielle Cook. I'm currently a freshman in journalism and mass communications. I live for telling true stories, so I hope to be doing it for the rest of my life. Luckily, I also live for late nights and early mornings – as long as there's coffee and I'm in good company.