Alternative political society seeks to challenge political perception
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 22:10
In addition to the UConn Democrats and UConn Republicans that discuss political issues of the day in a party specific forum, there is also the Alternative Political Society
“I think our group description does a great job at describing what we do,” said 8th-semester history and psychology double major Stephanie Blasnik, and a member of the club. “The Alternative Political Society seeks to provide an on-campus forum where students can consider, discuss, debate and promote ideas that are too often marginalized or altogether overlooked by the two major political parties. As the conventional left-right dichotomy does not adequately represent the range of political beliefs held by Americans, it is our aim to create alternative avenues of influence with in society to challenge the status quo of how politics is perceived by the general public.”
The club does not focus on just one political party, promoting a forum for questioning and discussions. This is a great draw for some of the students, including Sergio Goncalves, 7th-semester political science and Spanish double major, the president of the organization.
“I’m proud to be a part of APS because its inclusiveness is unique on campus,” Goncalves said. “We welcome people of any and all political persuasions. All of our members have one thing in common: we believe that restricting debate to Democrats and Republicans does a tremendous disservice to the American people, because the two-party system does not adequately capture the range of beliefs held by Americans.”
In the spirit of these ranging beliefs, the club will be hosting a mock debate on Oct. 15, in which the five candidates are nameless, only to be known as numbers. The candidates will be made up of five of the six Presidential candidates who will either be on the ballot in CT or have a mathematical chance of winning the 270 Electoral College votes needed. Randomly assigned APS members will represent them and there will be a series of roughly 10 questions. Each candidate will have about one minute to give his or her position. Afterwards, attendees will be asked to participate in a straw poll, and the winner will be announced.
“We feel too often people’s views are distorted by the two party system as well as by their perceptions of the candidates,” said Blasnik on the purpose of the mock debate. “By removing the names and thus party affiliations, we feel that the issues will actually be allowed to surface and more logical evaluations will be made. Hopefully a few people will be surprised when they learn who they voted for and what party represented what.”
Another piece of advice given by Blasnik was to get informed about politics and issues before voting on Election Day.
“ We do hold the position that it is better not to vote if you are not well informed,” she continued. “So, if you are a voter or not, we simply encourage you to get informed, then you can make the decision to vote or not for yourself, not just by default. To this end, we are a part of the UConn Votes Coalition and in along with the information we will be providing on the candidates we are making voter registration forms and general voting information available at all of our meetings and events.”
For Blasnik, being politically active means more than voting once every four years.
“It is about finding a way to relate to politics in your everyday life,” she said. “I know politics can be overwhelming but that is especially so when you are uninformed. I’m betting most students who are unsure don’t know a lot about the issues, or about who is running for state senate or local reps, and even a handful who don’t know who the vice presidential candidates are. How can you vote effectively if you don’t know who the candidates are let alone what they stand for? “
Another event that the club is hosting to help spread awareness is “We the People: A Political Awareness Rally 2,” on Nov. 2 from 3-7 p.m. in the Student Union Mall. This will be a follow-up to the event they held a year ago and will feature some CT politicians including Dan Real event and showcase other UConn student organizations like Poetic Release and artists from Husky Records.
Those interested in the Alternative Political Society can attend their weekly meetings on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. in room 312 of the Student Union, or email them at APS.UConn@gmail.com.