The leaders of College Republicans and College Democrats at Queens University of Charlotte have a message for this politically divided nation: It is still possible to disagree and get along.
The presidents of the two clubs have found that they can still talk about politics and be friends at the end of the day.
Admittedly, Jackson Tunks and Ella Van Troba have a relationship that is rare in politics. Tunks, president of College Republicans, and Van Troba, president of College Democrats, say they respect each other’s views and feel that others should, as well.
“Jackson and I are both on the swim team and good friends,” said Van Troba, “so I think it’s good to promote friendliness… and not be so polarized because that is such a huge issue today.”
Both agreed that Queens is a mainly Democratic campus. College Democrats has existed on campus longer than College Republicans, which just started last year.
How do the clubs’ members size up politics on campus? An informal survey of both clubs suggests they share the same attitudes as their presidents.
College Republicans has about 55 members in their club, while College Democrats has around 80 members. The two clubs responded to the survey in equal numbers of 20 people each.
Of those who responded, 80% said they felt comfortable stating their political views on campus.
Around 91% of respondents felt that there was some polarization on campus. Of those who felt that way, 40% characterized Queens as a “polarized” campus, while 51% felt that the campus was “somewhat polarized.” Only 8% of club members said that the campus was “not polarized.”
Tunks said he was not surprised by these percentages, as the diversity on campus will lead to a multitude of viewpoints.
Given that, perhaps it is not surprising that only 26% of the surveyed group felt that others were respectful of their political views.
Tunks said he decided to start his club because he believed that there should be a Republican voice on campus. That matters all the more, now, with the National Republican Convention coming to Charlotte in August.
Half of the survey respondents said they believe RNC will create tensions on campus, while the other half said it will not.
Tunks said it’s important to respect the views of others and to find common interests outside of politics. And while politics are all around, he reasoned, it does not have to be something that pulls people apart.