At our chapter we have engaged with a series of partnerships with the other political groups on campus to enable a broader dialogue with students on campus. In the scheme of things, our campus, Lindenwood University is in something of a unique position as a private university loosely affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. As such, it is exempt from certain free speech guarantees that would be present on a public university. In practice, however, it has proven decidedly more permissive in terms of free speech than many public universities, including that of Berkeley University, so long as all of the relevant paperwork is filed correctly and a minimum of three weeks prior to an event or function.
Even if we have not had the dubious honor of a designated safe space or free speech zone on campus, we have organized a series of open discussion panels between the different campus political groups. In the Fall, our campus’s College Democrats chapter, College Republican chapter, and our YAL chapter each have two representatives debate current issues and topics in a civil manner in the school auditorium. In the Spring, the Gay-Straight Alliance started hosting their own “Tough Topics Panel” that we are invited to alongside different campus organizations, including campus ministries. There is admittedly some more disagreement among participants in that, but in short, we ourselves enjoy a great working relationship with the other political groups on campus.
It is a point of some humor, and even more pride, that by a factor of years we are the longest running active political group on campus. Our meetings have traditionally functioned partly as a “common ground” for students to listen to, study, analyze and air political beliefs regardless of party affiliation, although this dynamic changed somewhat with the official establishment of the other political party organizations during the election of last year. As it stands, all of our members have standing invitations to the other political organization meetings and vice- versa and we even cooperate on some events. This semester, for instance, we split the cost of a recruitment barbecue with the College Republicans chapter on campus to help recruit more Freshmen and get them involved in the political scene.
Our methodology has worked quite well for us, but this would not necessarily hold true at all universities. Each chapter must evaluate their own environment to best tailor their approach to business. As a student double majoring in Finance and Business Economics, I am proud of how our campus’s political environment has developed in a respectful manner during my time here and of how the general direction of conversations have been guided decidedly in the direction of pro-business, free trade policies. As the current president of both the campus YAL chapter and the College Republicans chapter, our work has been very fruitful in advancing the causes of fiscal responsibility, free market solutions to issues, and sensible tax policy. While points of disagreement do remain among the chapters and even among our members, we have provided a great framework for open discussion of ideas and debate and I do believe that the knowledge and belief gap has indeed narrowed in some key areas, especially those pertaining to financial policy.