Political Activity at CDS

Morgan Allen

Kaitlyn Xu

 A “political issue” is defined as “any question that deals with how power is distributed and how it operates within social organization, and how people think about, and engage in, their communities and the wider world on matters that affect their lives.” By that definition, politics are not so much an entity separate from our lives, but embedded within it. Knowledge of current politics and news not only exposes us to those manifestations of power in the IB definition, but invites us to examine who is making decisions and policy for whom, what governs those decisions and policies, who they serve, who they exclude, who they support and harm, and structures that they maintain or challenge.

   However, political conversations at CDS are  especially scarce compared to the harsh reality of outside the school walls.  interviewed students on both sides of the political spectrum along with beginning a poll including all the grade levels to see why the students may be so uncomfortable discussing their politics amongst their classmates. 

   Freshmen Katie Mickel and Jacob Torres are on opposing sides of the political scale. Torres being on the right-wing/conservative side and Mickel being on the left-wing/liberal side. Both interviews were identical, however produced very different results. 

   When asked if he had seen his political views respected, Torres had  said “It’s hard for us to get our views respected without hiding them.” He then went on to talk about how one of his fellow freshmen who is very open about being republican is constantly shut down by her peers and if he presented his in a more open fashion, he may be shunned. Jacob also said that  “people with differing political views would not be a good to discuss things with”. Torres recalled a time during President Biden’s inauguration when his political views were disrespected. . He said “My friends are mostly left wing leaning so they were watching the inauguration for Biden. They were playing really loud, so I asked them to turn it down. Knowing how I felt about him being inaugurated, they turned up the volume and basically made me watch it ”.

   Mickel was asked the same question, to which she replied that her political views were in fact respected within school walls, but were not outside of them. Mickel believes she’d be outcast for her views alone amongst some of her peers because of situations that she had faced in the past in the virtual world. When asked to elaborate, she said  “I had my pronouns in my instagram bio and someone messaged me calling me a liberal” obscene name . The key difference between these two situations is that after that happened, she felt even further inclined to express her views. 

   Although the two interviews show prominent  examples of disrespect throughout the political scale,  Mickel’s interaction did not happen within the walls of CDS whilst Torres’ did. That could be a possible reason for why Mickel feels more comfortable than Torres revolving around the topic of political discussion.

   However, the students that were polled along with separate anonymous interviews produced similar results. In the interviews, the conservatives were almost all uncomfortable discussing their views with their peers while most liberals said that they didn’t have a problem talking about it in school. Mickel was asked what her thoughts were of why the majority of conservatives polled did not feel comfortable sharing their politics within school walls. In response, she said, “maybe because there’s such a stigma against the conservatives with everything that’s happening right now with racial and political culture. Maybe they’re just scared to express that because they know what they believe in is not the best” and that political culture at CDS revolves around ppl being “scared or targeted”. Torres answered the same question stating that there was a stigma surrounding conservatives because of what’s going on outside of CDS.

   In an interview with Kelly Benedetti, when asked if  that political silence instead of discussion hurts students’ understanding of current day politics, she said “As a Global Politics teacher, I believe that silence CAN hurt students’ understanding of current day politics. First, in these highly contested and emotion-saturated political times, many instructors may have neither the training nor the comfort level to engage students in political discussion in the classroom. Students are extremely varied and individual humans. The same political discussion that would engage and enthrall one student could be deeply distressing and triggering to another.”

   Students feel this difference between themselves. Dominic and, a conservative like Jacob, also feels uncomfortable expressing his views. When asked why, he said, ” I think there is an issue because based on what your political side is, people will be against you and be disrespectful.” Dominic believes that this can lead to tension and strained relationships, which is why many people avoid these types of conversations. “I think that everyone just wants to keep the peace at CDS.”

   Finally, awareness appears to play a large part in peoples willingness to discuss politics, and this was reflected heavily within the poll; 41% of all respondents say that they do not consider themselves educated on global world events.

 Benedetti does have a suggestion for all students to help them become more informed and able to discuss politics and current events, “I highly encourage students to subscribe to the AP Morning Wire, The Skimm, and other new sources that provide daily and regular briefings about domestic and World News”, Benedetti said. “They are extremely informative, manage Lee concise, and compellingly engaging. Also, ensuring that one does not get their views from exclusively one source is vital.”