After seeing bickering online over politics, senior Victoria Hirsh decided that students need a better platform to express their views. As a result, she created the Political Club with the sole purpose to be a “safe space” for political discussions.
During club meetings, members partake in civil discussions, which Hirsh leads, in which they share their political beliefs and try to understand the opinions of their fellow students. Some students in the club love politics, while others attend meetings to learn more about the issues facing the country.
Hirsh thinks the club could be a great opportunity for students to expand their views on different topics that influence America.
“Even if you do know where you are, you’re super Republican, super liberal, [it] doesn’t matter,” Hirsh said. “There’s always room for change and there’s always room to grow, and that’s what I’m trying to facilitate in this club.”
Hirsh started the club last year, but it became an active club with more members this year. She decided to expand the club because she thought that the discussions students were having on social media were not “healthy.”
“I thought [that] if everyone kind of came together and we could all talk about it in person and see everyone’s point of view, that would open up conversation and open up [the] possibility to change people’s minds,” Hirsh said. “Seeing others’ perspectives and talking to them face to face is very important in order to live in [the] society [we] do.”
She also had her own experience with changing her political views, which is an experience she thinks could apply to others.
“I personally have had a drastic experience, thinking I knew my political stances and I knew everything. I had this naive thought,” Hirsh said. “I’ve really grown really hearing other people’s perspectives and views and backgrounds. I would say I’m a pretty stubborn person, so I think if I was able to grow, anyone can.”
Club member freshman Nur Yılmaz joined the club because, despite his prior knowledge on politics and history, he wanted to hear the perspectives of others.
“I joined because I’d like to learn more about the views of other people and also I wanted to express my own political opinion and try to get other people’s thoughts on it,” Yılmaz said.
While Hirsh wanted the club to be productive and respectful, she did have a setback in the first club meeting she held. She witnessed one attendee trying to create chaos by interrupting the meeting, but she stood her ground.
“I was pretty clear. I said, ‘This is not a required event. If you want to continue doing this you’re just going to be kicked out of the club,’” Hirsh said. “Everyone who’s here is trying to learn and see each other’s point of view.”
Since then, the club meetings have been more civil, with members letting each other speak. This is in spite of the fact that many club members disagree politically, which Hirsh sees as a positive attribute of the club.
“We have very drastically different views, which is so great because you know you can hear everyone’s side,” Hirsh said.
Yılmaz also enjoyed the recent club meeting because of the discussion opportunities.
“I’ve been able to talk to many people and many other people who are interested in politics,” Yılmaz said. “It’s honestly a very nice coping mechanism to talk to people…during the pandemic.”
The last club meeting focused on the election, which students look forward to discussing in the future.
“We discussed the election, who we thought was going to win and conflicts going on around the country, which we thought were important,” junior Kevin Manavi said. “I enjoyed it.”
While the club will remain focused on discussions, Hirsh also hopes to get political figures from all different backgrounds to potentially speak at club meetings, regardless of whether in-person classes resume.
“I want to bring both sides, so [I want to bring] Republicans and I want to bring Democrats,” Hirsh said. “I want everyone to hear different points of views.”
Hirsh believes that her club is one that everyone should want to join.
“I think everyone should be interested because this is the society we’re living in,” Hirsh said. “This is your country. Don’t you want to know everything you can about it and see how you can make a difference?”