Graphic by Anne Ribordy
From community projects to a national election, South students are ensuring their voices are heard. With South’s clashing political beliefs, students can feel silenced, but these clubs provide a space to hear both like-minded and opposing opinions, explained senior Ashley Roy, member of Turning Point USA’s chapter at South, a national organization leading conservative conversations at high schools.
While Tara Tate, sponsor of South’s Young Progressives Club, admitted it may sound cliché, student political involvement is about making a difference in the world. She explained that many students feel disconnected from politics, so the student-driven club’s objective is to allow students to participate in the political process.
“The goal, in a very large picture sense, is to get students active in the political process [and] drive political action, with many of those actions having a progressive [basis],” Tate said.
Sophomore Drew Duffy, a member of Young Progressives Club, sees political involvement as a way for anyone to create change, a sentiment echoed across members of South’s different political clubs.
“Especially in this country, anyone from any position can make a difference,” Duffy said. “There’s something really drawing about it.”
As a member of Turning Point USA, Roy explained that she has learned the importance of advocating for her beliefs, but also exposing herself to views entirely different from her own.
“Political views at South are very diverse, so I think that it is important to have several clubs so people have others to talk to that agree with them and disagree with them,” Roy explained.
Like Roy, Duffy explained that in divisive times, heated discussions are unavoidable. However, he added that by remembering both groups want what is best for the nation, these arguments can be kept meaningful.
“Once we establish that both people there just want the best for people, it opens the conversation to be a lot more respectful and a lot more productive,” Duffy explained.
Michael Vodicka, sponsor of Political Discussions Club, feels that everyone should be able to express their views. He said that the purpose of Political Discussions Club is to ensure a space for students of any political beliefs to have respectful discussions regarding topics from criminal justice to the electoral college.
“It is different from a debate because it is more of an open forum for the students to express their opinions,” Vodicka said.
Similarly to Vodicka, senior Nicole Bechtoldt, member of Turning Point USA’s chapter at South, believes that no one’s opinion should be disregarded. Yet, she feels that conservative voices at South often are.
“It is a sad reality that civil discourse has been largely replaced in today’s society by divisive rhetoric and political muzzling in an attempt to get rid of those with opposing views,” Bechtoldt stated.
While Bechtoldt believes everyone has the right to express their views, opinions may become harmful when they are used to silence or threaten others. She explained that she joined Turning Point USA to find a safe space where she could surround herself with people of similar ideologies.
“As a club [we] continue to strive to create a school environment where all opinions are heard and given the respect they deserve,” Bechtoldt said.
Vodicka echoed this statement, as he explained that it all comes down to everyone deserving the same respect and support.
“The whole idea is that we are going to respect everyone’s views and right to free speech,” Vodicka explained. “We are going to disagree on a lot but at least we are open to hearing everyone’s views.”