Gillian Reinhard ’20
The Mar. 3 agenda of the Student Government Association meeting included a proposal from the Churchill Club to be recognized as an organization. Churchill Club members Andre Curtis ’20 and Nick Engstrom ’22 defended the organization against dozens of questions and criticisms, and discussions across campus have risen in its wake.
SGA approval of the Churchill Club would give the organization a recognition of its status on campus. This would also give the club the ability to reserve space at Trinity for events and possibly apply for funding from the Students Activities Fee (SAF). Throughout the SGA meeting, Churchill’s representatives stated that the Churchill Club would be an apolitical, separate entity from the Churchill Institute, however, the club constitution submitted to the SGA maintained that the organization’s first purpose would be to serve as the student center for the Churchill Institute.
The Churchill Institute for the Study and Extension of Western Civilization is an organization based in Hartford. According to the Churchill Institute website, the organization “will initially direct its activities to promoting its mission on the campus (of Trinity College).” The mission of the Churchill Institute, also found on its website, is to “encourage… serious teaching, learning and scholarship about Western Civilization and… its preservation and future trajectory.” The Churchill Institute has held events on campus in the past, such as a talk with former lieutenant governor of Massachusetts Jane Swift ’87 in spring 2017. The president of the organization is Professor of Political Science Gregory Smith, who also intends to serve as advisor to the Churchill Club. Current students Julia Gorka ’19, Audrey O’Byrne ’20, and Evelyn O’Byrne ’19 serve as undergraduate fellows for the organization, although this position’s exact obligations and ties to the organization are unclear.
The Churchill Institute is directly affiliated with the Alexander Hamilton Institute based in Clinton, New York. Similar to Churchill, the organization is headed by a professor at Hamilton College and seeks to promote the study of Western Civilization. However, this organization was forced to operate independently of Hamilton College. A New York Times article from 2008 states that: “opposition from the faculty forced the (Hamilton College) administration to withdraw its support…chairman of the faculty assembly, John O’Neil, was quoted as saying ‘there are people on the faculty who think this center has an explicit, right tendency.’”
The Churchill Institute also publishes The Trinity Review, which is described as an “alternative publication with another perspective on the state of Trinity College.” An article from Daniel Nesbitt ’22 in this publication states that “Churchill has assisted students in establishing Trinity College Republicans, as well as co-hosting a speaker with Trinity’s Young Americans for Liberty (Trinity YAL).” The article also mentioned the establishment of reading groups on campus.
The SGA is currently withholding a vote to approve the Churchill Club and is in the process of planning a forum to address the issues first discussed at the Mar. 3 SGA meeting. However, a concrete date or location has not be announced. Churchill Club president Evelyn O’Byrne ’19 has not addressed the SGA Senate and was not available for an interview with the Tripod. Other members of the Churchill Club were also contacted for this article but did not agree to an interview. A statement from the club can be read on page two.