New non-partisan club allows students to debate politics

By Paolo Cisneros

When Daniel Flesch, sophomore in LAS, returned to campus last semester after a summer internship in Washington D.C., he knew he wanted to stay involved in American politics.

The question was, in what capacity?

“Last semester Daniel had this idea of starting a club, but he didn’t really know what kind,” said his roommate Shane Regnier, sophomore in LAS. “He knew he wanted it to be something about politics because that’s something he just loves to death.”

Living with Flesch sparked an interest in politics for Regnier, and together the two set about founding the Political Science Club, the University’s only nonpartisan political discussion group.

The club meets every Wednesday to discuss political issues ranging from the use of water-boarding by the U.S. government to the political situation in Pakistan to the presidential primaries.

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The group attained Registered Student Organization status shortly before the end of last semester. More than 100 people attended their first meeting, and subsequent meetings have seen large numbers of attendees as well.

Club officials say membership is available to all students regardless of major or political persuasion.

“I really want people to understand politics and have a healthy environment to talk about it in,” Flesch said.

Robert Stesanski, sophomore in LAS and vice president of the club, said the decision to keep the group nonpartisan stemmed from the desire to provide an informative atmosphere that will help students form their own political opinions.

“Most of the other political groups on campus are more about getting people active,” he said.

“But before they can do that, they need to be well informed.”

The club is managed by an executive board that was selected by Flesch and Regnier after an extensive interview process.

The board meets every Sunday to vote on the three topics that will be covered in that week’s meeting.

Flesch sends an e-mail to registered members to tell them what the topics will be and encourage them to do some research.

The officers have recruited members by making announcements in their classes, chalking the Quad and sending out mass e-mails with the help of Joseph Hinchliffe, undergraduate advisor for political science.

In the near future, the club plans to broaden their recruitment efforts by expanding their e-mailing efforts to students in other colleges, Flesch said. Those efforts will help the club reach its goal of counting a diverse range of students as members.

“In a lot of ways, we’re geared towards non-political science majors,” Stesanski said. “Our goal is to inform people, and sometimes that’s more possible with people who maybe don’t have as much experience with politics.”

The nonpartisan nature of the club serves to attract students who are well versed in politics as well, Flesch said. “I don’t want people to hear ‘Political Science Club’ and be intimidated because they think we’re liberal or conservative,” he said.

“I want to keep this nonpartisan, because it enables us to do a lot of discussion and debate and through those you learn a lot.”

Looking forward, the officers have planned a number of activities including guest lecturers, social events and a debate between the candidates for the LAS-D student senate.

The positive response the club has been receiving has made its development all the more important for club officers.

“It’s really put a lot of responsibility in our hands to make it work and make it something valuable,” Stesanski said.