Campus student organizations navigate controversy
The Santa Clara
April 4, 2019
Following the midterm elections at the end of last year and the upcoming presidential elections, Santa Clara is looking at a potential increase in political activity on campus.
This includes the relaunch of the IGNITE chapter, an organization dedicated to building political ambition in female high school and college students.
IGNITE’s mission is to empower young women in politics through networking, panels and civic engagement opportunities.
The organization was founded in 2010 by Dr. Anne Moses, who grew up watching an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee question Anita Hill. This reignition of the club was launched by sophomores Mary Balestreri and Ciara Moezidis. Moezidis stated IGNITE’s purpose is to ensure that women are prepared and motivated to run for office and have a path for success as a public servant.
She also believed that Santa Clara’s chapter needed to be relaunched given that there are no other clubs on campus connected to nonpartisan ideologies with the mission of motivating women to enter politics.
When considering the political activity and interest on campus, Moezidis acknowledged that there is a lack of engagement.
“I think that a large amount of the campus remains apathetic when it comes to what is going on in politics,” Moezidis said. “If it does not correlate to their major, it is not necessarily a priority.”
From Moezidis’ experience, she does not see Santa Clara as more politically polarized than other campuses, but added that the university should strive to be more open-minded in engaging in civil discourse.
Her views are echoed by Patrick Wade, a founding member and current president of Santa Clara College Democrats (College Dems). Wade also does not think Santa Clara is especially politically polarized and emphasized the importance of political engagement.
“I think having discussions that include both faculty and members of the different political groups on campus can help to facilitate greater levels of understanding between these different groups and allow for a healthy exchange of ideas,” Wade said.
College Dems hosts frequent discussions on current events as well as guest speakers with the goal of promoting civic engagement.
As a partisan club, College Dems also specifically focuses on opportunities for students to engage with ideas and policies related to the Democratic Party.
“In my experience at Santa Clara,” Wade said. “Individuals across all political ideologies treat each other with respect and are willing to listen.”
Rhaaghav Kanodia is involved in College Republicans (CR) and is the current president of Turning Point USA (TPUSA).
As president of TPUSA, Kanodia works to bring guest speakers to campus as well as host tabling events to encourage and engage in political discussion with students on campus.
Kanodia differs from Moezidis and Wade in believing that Santa Clara as a community “tends to politicize every little issue on campus.”
Kanodia also feels that nearly all Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) on campus have a liberal agenda.
“The MCC, SCCAP and the ASG all receive so much funding from the school and tend to push radical leftist ideologies all the time,” Kanodia said. “On our campus, the university pushes only one ideology, which is why I think it is important for TPUSA and CR to be there to inform people about other stuff too.”
The signage that TPUSA has posted in the past has been subject to controversy.
In the beginning of March, TPUSA posted flyers around campus advertising their event “Gun Rights are Women’s Rights.”
A few of the flyers inside the Benson Memorial Center were torn down and had to be stapled repeatedly to ensure they would remain on the boards, prompting attention from the Benson Information Desk.
“My supervisor had to tell us to walk around and monitor the flyer and make sure no one ripped them off,” said sophomore Brittney Solorio, who works at the desk. “I haven’t had to monitor the flyers in the past.”
The president of College Republicans did not respond to requests for comment.
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