Last week, Volodymyr Kolychev hosted the first meeting of a group called "Students for Trump" at Portland State University. It quickly dissolved into heated shouting, as dozens of protesters arrived at the Smith Memorial Student Union to demonstrate against Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
But Kolychev, a 19-year-old economics major and first-generation Ukrainian immigrant, tells WW he considers the meeting a rousing success. He's hosting another April 16.
WW: Why did you start Students for Trump at PSU?
Volodymyr Kolychev: I wanted to form a group and acquire friends in real life, outside of social media. I have a sticker on my laptop sort of signaling my political stance. I can't go around saying, "Are you a right-winger, are you a right-winger?" so I have a sticker that says, "This Laptop Brought to You by Capitalism."
Did you expect backlash from left-wingers?
We expected heavy backlash. That was sort of the other plot for this. They've shut down normal conservatives all the time. If this was Students for Cruz or Students for Kasich, they probably would have shown up and screamed at us, but it wouldn't have been as interesting and it wouldn't have been on this same level.
What were you trying to accomplish?
There is this idea that all Trump supporters are violent bigots who go around punching people in the face, while the far-left guys are all nice and tolerant as they say. It did not seem to turn out this way. This meeting separated the aspiring Bolshevik commissars from the liberal Democrats.
Is there hypocrisy in a first-generation immigrant supporting Trump?
Actually, I think a first-generation immigrant not supporting Trump is hypocritical. It's really hard to get these visas; you have to go through all this work. The fact that someone who lives close to the U.S. could just waltz across the border—if illegal immigrants are able to break the law, it creates sentiment against all immigrants, and legal immigrants suffer from that.
Correction: Due to a transcription error, this interview misquoted Volodymyr Kolychev's characterization of his political opponents. He described them as "aspiring Bolshevik commissars," not "aspiring bullshit commissars." WW regrets the error.