UH political climate should inspire other campuses to reach across aisle
The political climate in society has changed in the past year; Trump’s rise has created a divide between those who identify on either side of the aisle.
It is the unfortunate reality that we now reside in where those who ideologically disagree do so personally. The divide seen in the national media and in Washington, D.C. can spill onto college campuses, leading to extreme rifts between groups on different sides. It is also not uncommon for those on opposing sides to dislike each other.
On the University of Houston campus, however, there’s a different political climate.
“Despite the growing divide in our political climate, individual relationships transcend politics and have the potential to bring people together who never see eye to eye on anything,” said College Republicans at the University of Houston President Matthew Wiltshire. “The individuals who make up the political organizations on campus are likely to know and may even be friends with those who are their ideological opposites. There is a certain level of friendship on campus.”
Even so, there can be tension.
Although on-campus political groups show a common respect toward each other unlike the tear-down tactics attributable to today’s politics, not everyone in political organizations choose to interact with each other.
President of Young Americans for Liberty Michael Anderson is familiar with this divide.
“At UH there is a common sense of respect for individual beliefs and ideology,” Anderson said. “However, I am no stranger to individuals calling me some pretty nasty names.”
Even though UH has a courteous political climate, there are still those who choose to ostracize anyone who disagrees with them. Those who do form relationships, however, have a common respect for one another, even if their tax policies don’t necessarily align.
“Discussing the issues leads to respect and understanding that in many ways can bridge the political divide,” said Communications Director for the University of Houston College Democrats Gabriel Aguilar.
On the other hand, there are also students who are active on both sides of the aisle.
At any given meeting, there is always one student who decides to make the leap across the aisle and open up the conversation.
“Both organizations are strongly founded on the principle of inclusivity and it is exemplified through their prioritization of open and respectful communication,” said political science junior and member of the College Democrats and Young Americans for Liberty Valerie Campos. “The political organizations at the University of Houston are a prime example of how different ideologies can work together.”
It also helps that UH is so diverse — not just ethnically and socioeconomically, but intellectually. Students are able to interact with ideas that are not their own and this discussion leads to an undeniable respect. When (the now disgraced) Milo Yiannopoulos came to speak on campus, he was not met with the same resistance from students that he was on other campuses.
The same goes for liberal speakers on campus; UH students allow each other the right to think.
This may not be an extreme phenomena, but it is very different from the way college campuses are described in the national media: a haven for fighting between the two sides. UH’s political climate should be a light for those in the national spotlight.
It’s not that hard to get along — all you really need to do is talk. Kudos to the many political organizations on campus that work toward a better and brighter future for all.
Assistant opinion editor Jorden Smith is a political science and creative writing junior and can be reached at [email protected]