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With election day on the horizon, there are billions of critical eyes on the United States as we prepare to elect a new leader. For many college students, this is the first presidential election they will be eligible to vote in.

Clubs like Marist’s United Nations (UN) club, while not directly involved in the political process, have interests in subjects that make this election of particular concern.

The UN club, under the guise of President Samantha Monroe, makes international events and news part of their monthly meetings. Monroe said, “We talk about current events going on in the world, either as friendly debates, conversations, or as a game.”

The club draws students from a variety of majors and disciplines, but the board has noticed that political science students take a special interest in the club due to its involvement with foreign policy and international news. “Probably close to two-thirds of our members are political science majors,” Monroe said.

While not inherently a political organization, the UN club’s interest in international events puts them in a position of being more invested in the current political climate, both at Marist and throughout the world. Monroe said, “We try to present news in an unbiased way and news from outlets that aren’t as popular as major networks.”

At the UN club’s most recent meeting, the board presented a headline from the British newspaper, The Independent, reading: “Largest Russian military deployment since Cold War passes through British waters en route to ‘crush’ Aleppo.” The leaders of the club encouraged discussion on the topic among members, who do not always agree on political issues.

“Our club tends towards the liberal end of things typically from conversations we have, but we do have conservative members as well,” said Monroe. “We try not to talk about it too much since it’s all over the news, but we have talked about our relationships with other countries and how they may change with certain outcomes from this election.”

One particular emphasis that is stressed in the club is voter participation, as trends from past presidential election races have shown a drop in voter participation. While members of the board have already sent in their absentee ballots, one question asked to the members of the club at last Thursday’s meeting was if everyone was planning to vote. The majority of the members in attendance said they were planning to vote, to which club secretary Pat Hickey said, “The youth vote has become a bigger factor in recent elections.”

The UN club advisor, Dr. Juris Pupcenoks, said he leaves club meetings and events up to the club, as it is a student-started, student-run, and student-driven club. His responsibility, he said, is to help organize events such as the club’s recent trip to New York City. Pupcenoks said that in club meetings, members “talk about foreign policy issues; they talk about presidential candidates.”

The emphasis the club places on the 2016 election and political involvement as a whole, is the effect it may have on foreign policy and our relationships with other countries.

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2 Comments

  1. Barbara Keefe
     – 

    An excellent synopsis of young people learning about national policies that
    have global outcomes, relatively free from bias. Well done Marist.

  2. Thomas Humphrey
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    So happy that Marist encourages involvement in politics and current events. Plato once said, “If we do not involve ourselves in issues, we will not remain free.”

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