According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, roughly six out of 10 Americans find conflicting political conversations “stressful and frustrating.” Here on campus, politically affiliated clubs are looking to counter this frustration by embracing a myriad of opinions and perspectives, creating a greater sense of unity.
“The club is open to everyone — all shapes and sizes and ideologies. The goal is basically to help more people on campus be policy minded and understand policy preferences,” BYU College Republicans President Levi Hilton said.
Every semester the BYU Republicans and BYU Democrats join forces to hold an open campus debate. Everyone on campus is encouraged to attend, whether or not they are members of either club.
“There’s not necessarily winners because the goal isn’t to win, the goal is to, you know, argue your case and present your facts,” Emma Moore, co-president of the BYU Democrats Club, said. “We hope that you would walk away learning something… The whole point of the debate is not necessarily for you to shout and scream and like throw tomatoes, but definitely for you to be like ‘Wow, I didn’t know that…’ and basically enlarge what you know.”
Weston Myers, a senior at BYU, recently returned to BYU Republicans Club activities after participating in debates as a freshman. Myers feels many students on campus lack knowledge about political issues, and a large purpose of the club is informing students.
Several topics for the debate are already being discussed within club meetings. Both presidents have a wide spectrum of subjects they’re passionate about and are working to incorporate them into the upcoming debate.
“We’re a huge environmental sustainability club actually,” Moore said. “We usually have a lot of people that are passionate about that… I love that we have every biome in Utah … we have the desert, the trees, the mountains, and I feel like everyone here generally … just really like(s) nature, so if they have the opportunity to participate in sustainability, most of the time they will.”
Hilton is hoping to tackle more sensitive topics at the upcoming debate pertaining to gender, such as transgender sports, locker room privacy and more.
“I’m hoping we can have some ‘solve the issue’ events where we have the Democrats and the Republicans come together and say ‘What’s an issue that’s facing America right now or like a hot topic, and let’s see if we can make tables and solve it,’” Hilton said.
Rather than just identifying and picking apart an issue, both Hilton and Moore are envisioning the clubs reaching solutions together.
“I think that it takes unity to create change, and it also takes unity to educate. We get to learn a lot more and experience a lot more change when we work together, no matter what political identification we have,” Moore said.
Whether a student identifies as Republican or Democrat, falls somewhere in the middle or simply desires to learn more about political issues facing the nation, the BYU Republicans and BYU Democrats extend the invitation to join today. Follow both clubs, the BYU College Republicans and the BYU College Democrats, on Instagram.
The clubs will be holding a question and answer panel event on Oct. 19. Their debate will be held Nov. 2 on BYU campus. Generally, debates involve three topics and three speakers selected from each club per topic.