Politics Club aims to spread political awareness

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Trisha Manna

Politics Club meets over Zoom, Feb. 1. The club met to discuss President Joe Biden’s first week in office and debate the effectiveness of his recent executive orders in order to expand their political awareness. “Of course it’s important to avoid being in an echo chamber and to learn from different ideas, but where do you draw the line at what exactly an opinion is, and when do you decide that some opinions simply are not valid?” Liu said.

Tensions rose across the country in the wake of another election year as protests erupted calling for change, rioters attacked the Capitol building and then President Donald Trump questioned election results. Watching these events from the couch as a student can be a tense experience, but there are many opportunities to get involved.

Juniors Trisha Manna and Marissa Liu decided to create Politics Club as a platform to learn and speak out about the issues facing not just the U.S., but the world as a whole. The club meetings are being held at 9 a.m. on Mondays. The goal of these meetings is to foster discussions focusing on current events and other political issues including the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, Georgia’s runoff elections and COVID-19 related restrictions.

“I wanted to start this club because I enjoy keeping up with politics, but I noticed that it was very easy to get stuck in an echo chamber, so I thought it would be helpful to have a place where people can express their views as well as be exposed to other viewpoints,” Manna said.

I enjoy keeping up with politics, but I noticed that it was very easy to get stuck in an echo chamber, so I thought it would be helpful to have a place where people can express their views as well as be exposed to other viewpoints.”

— Trisha Manna

To decide the topic of discussion for the meeting, club members vote through a poll sent out by Manna and Liu, who come up with ideas based on the news they had watched the past week. Politics Club also plans on furthering their discussions by allowing the meetings to be led by others within the group, so members are able to share about a topic that interests them.

“I think I have learned that while discussion and listening to others’ views and ideas are important, it is also important to take action,” Liu said. “It’s something that I personally want to improve on and learn from, and it’s part of the reason why we think adding the extra segment where we inform each other about issues important to us and what we can do will be beneficial.” 

Politics Club has yet to have an in-person meeting. With meetings being held over Zoom due to virtual learning and other COVID-19 restrictions, this has led to challenges in promoting the club.

“The hardest part has been getting people to join our club and come to meetings. We’ve tried different ways to reach out to let more people know about our club, but I understand that people may just prefer to sleep in or just may not like the virtual format,” Manna said.

I think one of the most important things for someone who wishes to get involved in politics is [to] be careful and critical of the media you consume and how you inform yourself.”

— Marissa Liu

The club has been sharing information over Instagram in an attempt to promote the club. This method of sharing information has occurred despite a lack of in-person opportunities, such as curriculum night, which would allow for students to explore what different clubs and other activities have to offer.

“It is important for students to get involved in politics because they obviously have their own opinions and voices and they should be able to advocate for issues important to them, but it is also important because it teaches students about the world around them and what they can do to try and change it,” Liu said.

The club’s inability to promote their meetings has led to difficulties in gaining more perspectives on the issues they discuss. 72.2% of the club most closely identifies with the Democratic Party, with another 11.2% of the club who do not identify with a single party.

“Honestly, most of the people who come to meetings seem to agree on most things and have very minor disagreements that are dealt with respectfully. We are still able to have productive discussions, but it would be nice if we had more people and more viewpoints,” Manna said.

Social studies teacher Jeff Chazen chose to sponsor the club due to a sense of responsibility as a government teacher to help students get informed. A few of the club’s members had been former students of his.

“If you better understand the [political] system, then you can influence the system. I think that there are many students in this school who complain about things but then don’t understand how decisions are made,” Chazen said. “I think the more that people are educated about how decisions are made, the better off we’re all going to be.”

Under Liu and Manna’s leadership, the Politics Club plans to continue meetings next year focusing on general topics such as healthcare while also discussing any current events that may occur.

“I think one of the most important things for someone who wishes to get involved in politics is [to] be careful and critical of the media you consume and how you inform yourself. Of course, this isn’t to say that you should remain ‘in the middle,’” Liu said. “Just to evaluate who and what may be shaping the way you view the world and why you may believe the things you do.”