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Politics club creates new space for conversation
October 20, 2020
This school year, seniors Ben Ward and Jonathan Zenkich and juniors Madeline Matsis and Chauncy Wadsworth came together to form the ETHS Politics Club, creating a space dedicated to fostering debate about political issues.
One of the goals of the club, sponsored by AP Government and Politics teacher Darlene Gordon, is to encourage students to learn about political views they don’t hold.
“Most of the views that we commonly hear at ETHS are liberal, and while that’s fine, it isn’t representative of all politics in our country,” Zenkich said. “We hope to expose people in the club to these views through the discussions that we will have, as well as the debates that we plan on setting up where people will be randomly assigned a view to represent.”
The debates in Politics Club will maintain a respectful tone with an emphasis on learning about other perspectives and sharpening debate skills.
“One of our first planning steps was drafting a set of rules and guidelines to ensure that debate stays civil,” Ward said. “As I have opened my mind to opposing beliefs, I have found that it strengthens my own arguments by helping me understand the other side’s perspectives and reasoning. I hope that members of the club will receive the same benefits.”
Politics Club will also keep students engaged in politics by engaging with current events, especially as the election draws near.
“At meetings, we will analyze candidate positions in the presidential race and key congressional races,” Ward said. “We will discuss and debate the key issues of this election. We will follow the confirmation process of the president’s Supreme Court nominee. After the election, we will examine the consequences of the presidential and congressional elections.”
Student founders of Politics Club are hoping that their activities get more students engaged in and excited about politics.
“We’re constantly berated by aggressive messaging. I can’t blame some people who aren’t very interested in politics for tuning out when they encounter this,” Zenkich said. “We want to tune down this aggressiveness and, hopefully, get more people involved along the way.”