By Peter Bloch
OES’ newest affinity group, the Conservative Affinity Group, has been created as a safe and open space for people who identify as politically conservative to discuss our society from the viewpoint of a Conservative American. Mike Gwaltney, OES’ History Department Chair, is the faculty sponsor for the Conservative Affinity Group. Student leader Ashley S. ‘18 will be announcing the new group in Gathering soon, and will facilitate the first meetings.
For those who are new to the term, Conservatism is the philosophy in having minimal government, and instead promoting individual responsibility, free markets, and a strong national defense. On the other side of the spectrum, Liberalism proposes in a much stronger government to regulate our social services and much of the economy.
While some might argue that Republicans and Democrats embody the views of Conservatism and Liberalism respectively, it is important to note that this is NOT a Republican affinity group. This group is dedicated solely to those who share a conservative mindset, and not intended as a Republican rally. In its discussions, this group hopes to avoid party politics, as this can lead to further conflict instead of a meaningful resolution through productive inquiry.
An affinity group is unique in that it “provides a ‘safe space’ in which its members can explore issues of shared identity and experience and affirm their emotional and intellectual responses to being part of a distinct subset of the community” (Richard Hylton). For this exact reason, the affinity group will NOT be a forum for debate with members of the community who don’t share the conservative mindset. If you do not identify with this viewpoint, you should not attend. The goal of this group is to provide a safe discussion place for the minority of OESians who would like to voice and explore what it means to be mindful conservative in both our local community, and the world.
With the inauguration of a new conservative President, our first meeting will focus on how our country will change in accordance with the conservative viewpoint. We think this is an appropriate time to meet and discuss what these new policies mean for our country, and how Donald Trump and his cabinet members aim to address our issues as a nation from their viewpoints.
Overall, the Conservative Affinity group’s agenda is congruent with the OES mission statement: for students to use their power for good within the OES and global community. If you identify as a Conservative, no matter your political party, you are welcome to attend a lunch session. Stay tuned Monday for a Gathering announcement with details on where and when the meeting will be held.