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New Club at East Promotes Political Discussion

Trump+and+Obama+meet+for+the+first+time+following+the+election.
Trump and Obama meet for the first time following the election.

Trump and Obama meet for the first time following the election.

Courtesy of www.nymag.com/

Courtesy of www.nymag.com/

Trump and Obama meet for the first time following the election.

Sophia Liang, Eastside Staff

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Amidst political scandals, Twitter wars, and debate debacles, at least one positive thing has come out of the 2016 presidential election— Craig Robinson (’19)’s passion for politics.

This election cycle piqued Robinson’s interest so much that it inspired him to create the Political Discussion Club, a platform for East students to research and debate current issues.

“There are a lot of people in our school who have political aspirations and who are interested in discussing politics, and I wanted to give them a good environment to do that in,” said Robinson.

Robinson launched the first Political Discussion Club meeting in late September with the help of Joshua Joseph (’19), the club’s vice president. They hold meetings every other Friday after school in room B139.

Before each meeting, Robinson sends out a club-wide email announcing the next discussion topic, ranging from the death penalty, to foreign policy, or even abortion. He encourages members to do preparatory research by including links, videos, and readings where they can learn more about the topic.

“It’s nice that we can do extra research because we may find facts and opinions that we weren’t aware of before,” said club member Rory Newman (’19).

Robinson and Joseph start each meeting by showing a video that presents all sides of the week’s topic. The members then split up into three groups for the discussion: supporting, opposing, and neutral or unsure. Each group takes a few minutes to come up with their strategies and arguments before the discussion begins.

As the discussion goes back and forth between the groups, Robinson and Joseph facilitate constructive conversation by posing prompting questions and making sure every person has an equal opportunity to speak.

“It’s important that people practice doing research, approaching opinions objectively, and keeping an open mind…instead of just yelling at each other,” said Robinson.

Robinson believes that holding civilized and educated discussions is crucial to combating political misinformation.

“I enjoy [Political Discussion Club] and hearing other people’s opinions,” said club member Jacob Graff (’20). “It provides a different perspective.”

Robinson also wants to eliminate partisanship from political discussion by promoting more nuanced discourse.

“I don’t want this club to be a left versus right kind of thing,” he said. “[Political discussion] should involve gray areas…it’s not just Democrat versus Republican or conservative versus liberal. I want people to form opinions that aren’t black-and-white.”

Robinson and Joseph hope that Political Discussion Club will help students expand their perspectives, research and voice arguments articulately, and meet other people with shared interests.

“We’re the next generation of voters,” said Joseph. “[Teens] will be able to inform themselves and use the skills they learned from this club to create a better future.”

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The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East
New Club at East Promotes Political Discussion