Kudos to the Karsh Institute of Democracy for organizing an event, “Talking Across Differences,” that brought young Republicans and Democrats together for a bridge-building dinner of conversation at the Colonnade Club. Kudos also to President Jim Ryan for giving his imprimatur to the initiative by dropping by, and kudos to UVA Today for highlighting this example of pluralism at the University of Virginia.
On Oct. 10, five members of the College Republicans’ executive board and five members of the University’s executive board met to get to know each other as people, not political foes.
“Politics is very important to me and of course I have strongly held beliefs and things like that, but, at the end of the day, we are all Americans,” said College Republican President Jack Forys. “And in this instance, we’re all students at the same university.”
“We broke the stereotype of what we thought the other person was,” said Lillian Rojas, policy chair for the University Democrats. “That’s what made the dinner very enjoyable. It got people to relax more.”
“In our current political environment, the polarization often feels insurmountable,” said Barnes, “but the students I joined at the dinner table to acknowledge their differences, embrace what they have in common, and understand that balancing both is central to a healthy democracy.”
The Jefferson Council is pleased to note that Libby Klinger, a former College Republicans president and now a Council intern, was involved in the early rapprochement with Democrats that led to the dinner.
A major objective of the Jefferson Council is to promote open dialogue and intellectual diversity at UVa. While we have many differences with UVa leadership, we are happy, as Barnes said, to cheer what we have in common and lend our support and encouragement to initiatives like “Talking Across Differences.”