FSB Young Republicans

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As Donald Trump settles into his role as president, the Friends School of Baltimore community, like the rest of the country, remains divided after a turbulent election year. On the morning of  November eighth, less than 24 hours after Trump became President-elect, the atmosphere at our school was primarily one of disappointment. The 8:00 to 8:50 block, meant for a grade-based forum activity, was instead repurposed as a time for students to meet and talk with teachers about the election results. Despite this emphasis on discussion, one group of students felt that their opinions were still being ignored: Republican students. These students also mentioned that they felt dismissed because of their political affiliation, saying, “…the hardest part of being a Republican at Friends School is the labels you are associated with. I’ve been called racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, and many other things (none of which I consider myself to be), simply because I have political views that differ from theirs. The vast majority of Republicans I’ve met, including myself, aren’t racist, sexist, or anything bad; we just think that the methods Democrats are using to attain equality don’t work.”

The Young Republicans’ Club (YRC), headed by Foster Joy (‘17) and faculty-headed by Dr. Newton, meets to discuss current events and to advocate for a Republican worldview to be accepted on campus. For example, after Michael A. Wood Jr., the Executive Director of Veterans’ Stand for Standing Rock, came to speak to the Upper School during collection, many YRC members expressed discomfort. During a recent YRC meeting, the club came to the consensus that Mr. Wood had been disrespectful to the military during his speech and had been far too political for a routine collection. Members also feel that the Friends School community has to improve in its treatment of Republican students.

 

Over a year ago, Mr. Micciche scheduled listening sessions for groups of students who felt unheard. Among those, scheduled for meetings on Feb 16, Mar 16, Apr 8, and May 11, was a group titled: Politically Conservative Students. These students felt that “the school is a hostile environment for Republicans,” and that they had been deliberately ignored. Republican students saw these meetings as a chance to improve their standing and afterwards described the administration as “support[ing] the YRC relatively well,” adding that “…the YRC was created during the conservative student listening sessions with Mr. Micciche and Mr. McManus last spring, and they have been very helpful by doing things such as making attending the inauguration an excused absence and supporting the Controversial Ideas Club.” Despite this progress, a YRC member mentioned that, in his opinion, “…whenever there is a conflict of interests between conservative and non-conservative/liberal student groups, they always favor the side of the liberals,” citing that “…during the forum about the signs that were put up after the election, the teacher running it (Ms. Rupani, Director of Diversity) only called on Republican students three times, and let liberal students do the vast majority of the talking.” A YRC member disclosed that intolerance of differing political views “…is even worse during social situations, as students have ganged up against Republican students to harass us. It continues after the conversation has ended, with people talking about us behind our backs calling us racist and sexist, and even one student receiving harassing phone calls outside of school.”

It would be easy to dismiss this club’s opinions and continue on with our views unchallenged, but we, as a Quaker school have a long history of listening. In our weekly meeting for worship, we sit and listen for the call to speak. It is as equally important that we listen and are respectful of those who have different political opinions. As a YRC member put it, “…the best thing non-Republican students can do is to remain civil and open your mind to other ideas and ways of thinking during political discourse; both during class and outside of class. Remember that the person you’re talking to’s opinions are just as valid as your own, and have come from his/her personal experiences. Listen to them before blowing them off as a racist or sexist. Quakerism teaches equality, so let’s practice that in all situations, not just the ones that are convenient to you.”

 

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FSB Young Republicans