Abortion, mass shootings and the status of contemporary political discourse were among some of the topics discussed at the semester’s first Across the Aisle event held on Wednesday, September 11 in the John A. Barone Campus Center.
Students ate an assortment of food from Garden Catering and talked about the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, background checks for gun owners and whether the United States’ political climate is as volatile as it seems to be. Students also discussed the upcoming primary elections, talking about Democratic candidates such as Andrew Yang, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, among others. One particular topic that was debated was Andrew Yang’s proposal, as outlined on his campaign website, for a universal basic income of $1,000 a month for all United States citizens.
With the Across the Aisle event being held one day prior to the Democratic primary debate, there was also a focus on the Democratic candidates and their chances of beating President Trump in the 2020 general election.
Despite the salient nature of the issues that students were talking about during the event, the conversation remained civil throughout. Students took time out of their serious discussions to make jokes and have some fun. Laughter was prevalent during the event, as was compromise. Although students disagreed on certain issues, they were usually able to find common ground and remained respectful throughout the event.
The structure of the event was relaxed, with students able to come and go as they please, get up and grab food whenever they like and generally comment whenever they have something to say. This created an environment that facilitated discussion and learning according to the students who were in attendance.
“I definitely think Across the Aisle is important,” wrote Isabel de León ‘21, a participant in the event. “This event gives students of all different backgrounds and political parties an environment to discuss their viewpoints freely. I love that it isn’t just one-sided political views. I have a chance to see how others think, and sometimes even rethink my own ideas.”
Across the Aisle is a beneficial learning experience for students as well. As de León continued, “Some of the things I learned today had to do with Connecticut gun laws–I am unfamiliar since I have only ever lived in New Jersey and now Texas–and laws regarding drafts.”
Across the Aisle, which runs biweekly, is an opportunity for students of any ideological background to discuss important issues and have difficult conversations openly and freely. The next meeting will be on September 25.