Sunday, July 21

Student groups host POLITIFEST to spark political discussion

Guest speaker Ana Kasparian, co-host of an online news show The Young Turks, and two UCLA professors engaged in a panel discussion with students Monday night. (Dayoung Lee/Daily Bruin)

Guest speaker Ana Kasparian, co-host of an online news show The Young Turks, and two UCLA professors engaged in a panel discussion with students Monday night. (Dayoung Lee/Daily Bruin)

A co-host of The Young Turks, a popular online news show, engaged students in a discussion about bursting politically ideological bubbles Monday.

The Bruin Political Union and the undergraduate student government’s Campus Events Commission hosted POLITIFEST on the Hill on Monday night. About 100 students attended the event, which featured a town hall discussion about political ideologies, a fair featuring campus political groups and a meet and greet with the panelists.

Ana Kasparian, the co-host of The Young Turks, and two UCLA professors discussed the question of whether people should reconcile or disregard individuals who have opposing political views.

“I think there’s a value in hearing various political opinions,” Kasparian said. “Whether you agree with it is your business. However, you should decide whether it makes sense to move forward with the discussion.”

Richard Sander, an economist and law professor at UCLA, agreed with Kasparian and said he thinks it is important to pursue dialogue with individuals from different political spectra.

“Diversified views come from ideological diversity,” Sander said. “But you want to engage in discussions that are empirically sound.”

Students also asked questions on how to approach immediate family members who have different political ideologies.

Brian Esparza Walker, a political science associate professor, said he thinks students should try to work to understand people’s different worldviews and where their perspectives come from.

“My brother is fundamentalist Pentecostal, so I spend a lot of time with family who disagree radically,” Walker said. “But sometimes you need to sincerely accept their arguments, which is one way to become more tolerant with each other.”

The panelists also discussed specific ways to find common ground in what they said was an increasingly divisive political context.

“I think it’s important to not have your guard up when talking with people with opposing views,” Kasparian said. “Our ideologies have become our value system and who we are, so we automatically become defensive and don’t want to hear them out.”

The panelist also discussed how millennials who cannot relate to either major U.S. political party can still be engaged in politics.

“I think young people have had a huge impact on last year’s election on the Democratic side,” Kasparian said. “But our voices are not being heard, so you need to go further than organizations. If you are passionate about issues, then run and get more involved.”

The event provided students the opportunity to interact with various student organizations including Bruins Elect and Bruin Libertarians through a tabling session.

Jessica Chase, president of Bruins Elect and a third-year political science student, said she thinks students can be more politically engaged by joining student political groups. For example, Bruins Elect holds weekly meetings to vote on action items and organizes phone banks for Democratic candidates.

Some students who attended the event said they came because they were fans of Kasparian and wanted to listen to students engage in political discussions with the speakers.

Brendan Daly, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, said he attended the event because he wanted to hear more about the current political climate. He added he is currently not politically active but is seeking out different ways to get involved.

Bismarck Saenz, a fourth-year history student, said he thinks the panel is relevant to students because of the populist political climate at UCLA and across the world.

“Like how Bruins United was decimated, it really showed how the Bruin community voted to voice their opinion,” Saenz said. “I think it’s great more students are getting engaged.”

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Kim is the assistant news editor for the campus politics beat. She was previously a contributor for the beat.

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