During the stressful season of the presidential election last semester, The Anchor sat down with the Hope Republicans and Hope Democrats to get their thoughts about the coming months and political culture on campus. Now that time has passed, a candidate has been selected and a new administration has settled in, The Anchor has decided to go back and see what has changed on campus. We sat down with Juliana Struyk (’23), Secretary of Hope Republicans, and Liam Diephuis (’23), Treasurer of Hope Democrats, to get their thoughts.
One might think that given the tumultuous political climate the United States experienced in the few months after the election that Hope College would have felt a change in atmosphere around politics, but for the most part it hasn’t. Diephuis stated, “Personally, I just haven’t seen the overall campus atmosphere change.” Some have felt a change in a gradual downward slope in political talk on campus. As Struyk explained, “I feel like politics is not as prominent anymore; it seems like election season was a mere dream.” Diephuis went further, commenting on why he believes the atmosphere on campus hasn’t seen much change and what Hope students should do as things go quiet again: “After the political pandemonium of the last year, I don’t think there’s very much that can shock us or change the political atmosphere on campus, at least not in the short term. To me, it seems like the day-to-day operations of government are being increasingly scrutinized by media organizations and followed by the general public. I hope that this encourages people everywhere to take a closer look at our government and think critically about it. To summarize, I don’t know exactly how Hope’s political climate will change, but I’d like it to have an atmosphere of open-mindedness with regards to necessary changes in U.S. government and politics.”
After the election in November, Hope Democrats and Hope Republicans had an event to talk about unity and its importance at Hope. When asked if the importance of unity had diminished, Struyk commented, “This is important to us, especially in light of this past election. We realize everyone has their personal beliefs, and we respect that; but we feel it’s important to internalize the willingness to listen to others’ beliefs and create a space to do so.” Diephuis echoed her sentiments, adding, “Personally, unity on campus is important to me. A sound piece of advice I’ve received is to view each person as a child of God and as a whole instead of just interacting with blocks of their identity like politics.”
Hope Republicans also had the unique experience of witnessing their candidate leave office after only one term. Former President Trump is only one of ten United States presidents to be denied a second term. Despite this, Struyk said, “The atmosphere within Hope Republicans hasn’t changed much. We have continued reflecting on the Trump administration, but we have kept up discussion about potential candidates for the next election.”
On January 6, 2021, the nation stood still as the United States Capitol building was breached for the first time since the War of 1812. Students weren’t yet back on campus for the spring semester, but no one could escape the constant media coverage of the event. When asked if their group had made any statements following the attacks, Struyk stated, “We appreciated the statements released by our parent organization, the Michigan Federation of College Republicans and Michigan’s Youth GOP.” This statement was a strong condemnation of the violence and called for healing. Diephuis said that the Hope Democrats hadn’t released a statement but added, “The fact that we would need to condemn an armed insurrection is an unfortunate testament to the fact that our democracy isn’t perfect, and that overt opposition to democracy is very close to home.”
It has been difficult for both clubs to do outreach during a pandemic. Diephuis stated, “Hope Democrats haven’t hosted any events during this academic year due to the pandemic. Even with online events, reaching out to prospective members is difficult because the unavailability of in-person organizing makes it hard to raise awareness.” Struyk stated of Hope Republicans’ plans for the semester, “We have a few opportunities. They are being posted to our social media, so be sure to check it out!” Both Hope Republicans and Hope Democrats can be reached via email, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, for questions and further information on membership, events and outreach. Both clubs can also be found on Instagram, Hope Republicans at @hope_republicans, and Hope Democrats at @hopedemocrats.