New Student Group Hopes to Broaden Campus Political Dialogue

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New Student Group Hopes to Broaden Campus Political Dialogue

Claire Jeantheau ’21, Staff Writer

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An emergent student group, inspired by a conversation between friends, wants to create a space for Dickinson students who feel they lack an outlet for political expression. 

The United Students Searching for Rights, founded by Katie Schorr ’21 and Salem McNevin ’21, aims to be an alternative to campus political groups like the College Democrats and Republicans. While the club was formed with left-leaning politics in mind, Schorr and McNevin are open to all students interested in activism or political views beyond the mainstream.  

“[United Students Searching for Rights] is for people who have views outside the binary political system that we have in this country,” McNevin said. 

“It’s trying to transcend the very rigid political norm that we have…. Having a two-party system is not great — actually, it’s horrible. But what if we talked about…not that…in regard to American politics and world politics and our own personal views?” Schorr asked. 

The group has held two meetings so far, with four to five other students. The two co-founders, who both describe themselves as politically left, were inspired to start the club in the middle of a discussion at a meal. 

“Basically, we were at dinner one night, and we were talking about just politics in general, and I get passionate about it, and I was mad…and [McNevin] was like, ‘Why don’t you start a club?’” Schorr said. 

“I brought it up as a joke, because we’re both more left than your typical Democrat or liberal. I was jokingly like, ‘We should start a club for more left-leaning people!’ And Katie’s like, ‘Yeah!’” McNevin added. 

The two designed a poster with a brief description of the group that same night, along with Schorr’s email address. Schorr stated that in the three weeks since the flyers have been posted around campus, she’s received a noticeable response in both emails and student turnout at meetings.

  “Way more people came than we expected. [On the poster], it says ‘Email me if you’re interested’, and so people would email me, and I would respond and be like, ‘Come to the meeting!’,” Schorr said. 

 Schorr and McNevin want to solidify their group’s identity going into the new academic year by planning events, including letter-writing campaigns and debates on current issues. Another important decision will be whether United Students Searching for Rights will remain an informal gathering of students, or officially register at a campus organization under Student Senate. Students interested in forming Senate-recognized clubs must go through a process which involves creating a constitution, writing a letter of intent, and signing a senate recognition agreement with a faculty advisor. Schorr acknowledged the advantages of having campus support but was also wary of whether this would clash with the group’s values. 

  “We want people to know about it. We want there to be a good, healthy, membership. But kind of the very idea of the club…goes against bureaucracy, and kind of the idea of being registered, part of a rank-and-file kind of thing. It’s a question that we’re still considering, because if we were registered with Student Senate, we could be in the Club Activities Fair, and advertise more easily on campus. But then that would defeat some of the purpose of the club,” Schorr said. 

  United Students Searching for Rights will meet for the remainder of the semester in Malcolm Hall on Tuesdays at 8p.m. Schorr and McNevin also maintain an email list through [email protected] for students who would like to receive updates about the group’s plans for the upcoming semester.