The Technicalities of School Politics

Given its size and location, the great variety of political opinions and levels of awareness at Brooklyn Tech is not surprising. Some students are driven to learn more and actively participate as much as they can. Others, however, only become more aware during significant political events, such as the recent mayoral election.

Sarah Elyse ’17 is trying to become more politically aware. As a new member of the Junior State of America (JSA), she has been exposed to the nature of political debate. Elyse ’17 says her views are leaning towards liberal, though, as a freshman, they are not very strong. She also believes that this stems from the fact that the people with whom she interacts do not talk about politics.

Benjamin Rosenblatt ’14, however, fits a very different description. He is one of several very politically active seniors. Labeling himself a progressive, Rosenblatt ‘14 is the president of the Progressive Student Awareness (PSA) club, which focuses on social justice issues in society.

“I think I’ve always grown up with my father and my family involved in politics or interested in it,” he says. Rosenblatt ’14 believes he is in a minority at Tech, as few students are aware of or interested in politics. However, Rosenblatt ’14 takes the initiative to interact extensively with those who are.

Aside from running the PSA, he often debates, both online and in person, with individuals who have opposing views, like the members of the Conservative Club. Rosenblatt ’14 says that everyone typically learns from each other through such interactions, promoting a balance of ideologies among all involved.

Representing the other side of the political spectrum, Alex Kuznetov ’14 considers himself to be a conservative on most issues, especially fiscal, but liberal on social issues. He believes that these conservative tendencies come from his Russian background and specifically his parents’ opinions.

Kuznetov ’14 also believes he is part of a minority of students who are genuinely interested in politics and follow it daily.

“I feel like much of the Tech student body doesn’t really care much about politics to actually research the issues for themselves. They’re mostly limited to what their teachers tell them.”

While he does discuss his political views with others when it seems relevant, he believes the debates become intense and eventually unfair, due to the fact that liberal views are favored in the community.

“I don’t really spend much time arguing about the general political views because I know that it won’t really get anywhere. One of the down sides in discussing politics in school though is you become outnumbered in a debate, and there is no way you can win it. It just becomes a shouting match.”

Eion McGuinness, a student-teacher from Columbia’s Teacher College currently teaching the Law and Society Civil Law course, says, “Even though most students do not seem to overtly discuss their political convictions in our class, their heightened sense of political awareness enriches the nature of all of our class discussions.”

He notices that students will often refer to satirical political shows, such as the Daily Show and Colbert Report. Not only does McGuinness think that students are aware of the issues, he says that they have sophisticated understandings of them and, “acknowledge the ubiquity of prejudices and stereotypes, and generally reject and condemn them.”

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