Grace Bromage ‘23
Chief Features Editor
As the 2020 election approaches, the McFarland Center started the HC Election Forum. The forum has spent the semester organizing lectures and discussions, and recommending articles, spanning a wide variety of political issues. I was able to talk to Marisa George ’21, a double major in political science and psychology and one of the HC Election Forum’s organizers, about her experience with it.
George said that “the HC Election forum was created to prepare the campus for the 2020 elections … As a member of the programming subcommittee, our job has been to plan events and speakers that engage the community to learn more about political issues, to discuss our differences, and to help give resources to the community so that they can best form their views and beliefs.”
George mentioned that coordinating events on a virtual platform has “brought its challenges, but it has also provided plenty of opportunities. People can more readily attend events, there is more flexibility in timing, and there is a wider availability among our speakers. There is a desire from the community to engage with each other, and having virtual speakers and discussion has helped to connect everybody.”
Marisa George, the co-chair of the college republicans, serves on the programming subcommittee with Ben Tayag ’21, the co-president of the college democrats. They are joined by two professors of political science, Daniel Klinghard and Maria G. M. Rodrigues, and the Director of the McFarland Center, Tom Landy. I asked George what it was like to work in a group with diverse political beliefs. She said that “rather than being divisive or argumentative, it has allowed us to have healthy discussion and learn from one another. We are able to joke around with each other while also having serious conversations. It has been an extremely positive experience that is a strong reminder that political differences are often just that: political. We have become a close-knit group that I enjoy not only working with, but also simply conversing and spending (virtual) time with.”
On what she is most proud of in her time on the election forum, George said that “I am most proud of how much we have been able to get done on so many important issues with so many different perspectives. One event that highlights this is: “Party Labels: What do they mean? Do they matter?” Professors Donald Brand and Ed O’Donnell had a healthy discussion on party labels and political ideology. Although there were some disagreements, they were respectful, brought up important issues, tied together history and modern day, and answered a wide variety of questions. Following the event, students were able to have a discussion on their reactions to the talk. Both aspects of this event reflected the achievement of our main goal: hearing informed talks and being able to discuss differences.”
I asked George about what advice she has for people preparing to vote in this and future elections. She said “do not be afraid to engage in a discussion with someone with opposing views. It is easy to draw conclusions about someone’s beliefs from a label. But, working on this committee with such intelligent, kind, and great people from various backgrounds has been a reminder that if we take a step back and have real conversations, we can learn a lot from one another. It’s not always about trying to change someone else’s views but rather to simply understand theirs. And, oftentimes, you’ll find you agree on more than you think. Keep an open mind, and remember: we’re all individuals and one label doesn’t sum any of us up.”