Political Polarization: Are They a Danger to College Campuses?

Cameron Hailey , Contributing Writer

As the 2020 elections closes in on us, the country’s divide looks clearer than ever. The State of the Union address on February 4 showed the country that the representatives and parties they had voted for were more partisan than ever. There was a clear line in the seating of politicians where the Republican representative’s seats ended, and the Democrat seats began.

The stories told from both sides of the aisle were two different tales. From the Democrats, a story of Pres. Donald Trump unwilling to shake the hand of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And from the Republicans, there was the ripping of the State of the Union speech by Pelosi.
But what these two stories made clear was that this country’s political spectrums have rarely been more distant from each other.

The Pew Research Center studied the nation’s political views to find that the number of people with mixed or moderate views shrunk about 10 percent since 1994. The number of people with strong liberal or conservative views doubled in that same timeframe. The study also said that 92% of Republicans are more conservative than the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are more liberal than their Republican counterparts.

What does this mean for the University of New Haven? College Republicans President Tim Anop said, “I think there are a lot of opinions on this campus, and I think this is one of the better campuses in Connecticut where all of them just coexist.”

To Anop, the students believe in civil discourse, but he is worried that more people may not want to hear from both sides of the political aisle and said he hopes that it will not become commonplace on the campus.

President of the College Democrats, Hailey Eisman said that she believes that the campus is not necessarily divided, but conversations about politics are often avoided to reduce confrontation.

Hailey said, “Civil discourse is very important; however, you cannot expect the person you are discussing with to change how they feel politically.”

College campuses are full of people from different backgrounds with a variety of opinions. At least in New Haven, the representatives of the two larger political organizations say there is hope that political polarization will not be as large of an issue for Americans.