While the most outspoken political activism on campus comes from the left, the Young Conservatives have upped their meeting dates this school year.
The Young Conservatives main goal is to be a discussion space for those who either feel their political affiliation is conservative (or right-leaning) or those who simply are interested in hearing opinions different possibly from their own viewpoint. They meet once a week and discuss events around the globe as well as in our own country and engage students in discussion.
Members of the club come from various political backgrounds. Some have always been interested in politics, and others have parents who are involved in politics and are politicians.
“My father is a politician, and so that kind of interested me when he started getting involved in the political scene,” co-president Grant Matzigkeit said. “I figured that I needed to learn more about just our political team in general, and [the Young Conservatives Club] was very inviting.”
The topics of discussion in the past couple months have definitely been centered around the recent political events in our country.
“We generally try to keep the topics of discussion pretty current, so we’ve talked a lot about the midterm elections, Kavanaugh’s appointment and confirmation, gun control laws, and abortion,” co-president Will Wallace said. “Engaging in those conversations and having healthy discussions is really what we promote.”
The Young Conservatives Club also occasionally meets with the Young Democrats Club to listen to and discuss opposing viewpoints on a topic.
“I think it really helps get everything out into the open, and you get a new perspective on a controversial idea,” said freshman Michael Tye. “You might believe one thing, but then someone else who believes something else asks questions about your belief, and I come out of it feeling like I’ve learned something new.”
Members of the club, however, don’t necessarily have the same viewpoints on topics such as gun control and abortion. Discussions of the club not only include talking about recent events, but also include having people argue the opposite side and building a discussion based around that. Similar to talking with the Young Democrats, building opposing arguments and then responding to them helps members look at the same topic from a different angle and place themselves in someone else’s shoes.
“I just like staying engaged in these sorts of things, and being able to have a space where I can talk to people who hold most of the same beliefs that I do, and just discuss what’s going on,” said Tye.
Most members of the Young Conservatives Club also have strong viewpoints on the political polarization of Westminster itself. Many believe that Westminster’s political polarization is definitely more towards the left.
“I certainly say there is a bias towards the left. A lot of the faculty seems to lean left. It’s like that throughout universities, high schools, where the left certainly has more representation,” Tye said. “I think especially the way they are portrayed and supported by the media, they’re just kind of given more of a background. […] I just think that because most of the faculty are more liberal, people who lean left have more of a platform on these campuses.”
Tye isn’t the only student with these sentiments on campus.
“I don’t think Westminster is any more politically divided than the rest of our country is,” said Wallace. “I think, in a way, it might even be less polarized than the rest of the country is.”
The club has also done many activities to encourage students to be actively involved. Besides the weekly meetings, people in the club will take turns arguing the opposite side. This helps other members understand why they believe what they believe and helps them round out their beliefs so they are ready to argue it when necessary.
The Young Conservatives Club has done a lot on campus this year, and the leaders have worked hard to make sure anyone who wants to talk about their political views has a safe space to express their opinion. They also encourage discussions with people who may have completely different views from their own, wanting the club to be a learning space as well as a safe space. Even though some members of the club may disagree on topics such as gun control and abortion, it creates a healthier discussion with more opportunity for learning. Although many people may misinterpret what the club stands for, they are promoting the ability to have discussions about sensitive topics and continuing Westminster’s mission to love challenge and lead change.
Westminster strives to be a safe community for everyone, no matter what their political views may be. Although some people may not see it, the Young Conservatives Club has worked hard to increase awareness of the current political climate and encourage people to make their voices heard, constantly repeating the message that people can and should listen to others whose views are much different from their own.