Political Clubs: Helping or Hurting?

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This year, two new and somewhat controversial clubs have been formed at Bellarmine:Young Liberals Club and Young Conservatives Club. These two clubs provoked student discussion about politics and about the clubs themselves. The creators of the two clubs are senior and conservative leader, Liesl Heston, and senior and liberal leader, Alex Rex. Both clubs have promoted their clubs around campus and put an emphasis on being open minded to all viewpoints and on civil discourse. The newly formed clubs generated interest among students, but how have the clubs overall affected the Bellarmine community?

Both Young Conservatives and Young Liberals were created with positive intentions. Heston said, “The goals of our club are to provide a space for conservatives so that their opinion is not shut down, but also a spot where all voices are heard. We do not want to become a place where group think is visible.” She also emphasized the importance of civil discourse and being open to all viewpoints in the club.

Similarly, Rex said that the goals of YLC are to “promote healthy political discourse as well as to have a safe space for people who identify with more liberal views.” She liked how the clubs allow for people to express their perspectives.

Members of both clubs praised the goals of the clubs and the effect on the community. Senior Collin Butler said that YCC for him has “done more good because it has been a place I can go and say what I’m thinking without feeling like someone is going to yell at me.”

There is a consensus among members that the clubs offer a safe space for civil discourse and a diversity of opinions. When asked if the clubs have a positive impact on the school, senior and YLC member Lily Wentworth said, “I think it does and that it really brings classes together because there are a lot of underclassmen as well as upperclassmen who are a part of it and it is really important to get everyone’s opinion. I think that the discussions are really interesting.”

Young Conservatives Club have had meetings discussing a variety of topics ranging from the economy to women’s rights. These meetings attract multiple viewpoints and offer a place for discourse between different viewpoints.

Young Liberals Club recently had their second meeting on Dec. 13 to discuss political correctness.

Sophomore Maddie Christensen said, “I was excited about a potential for a place to have discussions with people who were open to discussing about things. Conservatives Club was an opportunity to do that, and it met and exceeded my expectations for doing that.”

However, there have been mixed reactions from students outside of the clubs. Senior Faven MacInnis voiced her disagreement with the creation of the clubs on the basis that they do more harm than good. She said, “I feel like they both got created, not even to create dialogue, but to create anger. I know that some people think that people come together in that club, but from what I’ve heard, it’s just crazy things being said in that club.”

On the other hand, senior Thomas Irwin said, “Personally I have seen a positive impact. I feel like discussions in class have gotten more political which I think is beneficial because I think that class should be an opportunity to discuss your opinions and challenge your own ideas on our government and systems.”

Although there are differing opinions on these political clubs, non-members and members alike agree on the importance of civil discourse within and outside of the classroom. Overall, there certainly seems to have been an increase in open political discussion in classes, clubs and elsewhere.

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