Megan Powers: A Different Kind of Minority

Upon hearing that NYU has Republican affiliated students, one is almost surprised. But Republican students it has. Megan Powers, Vice President of NYU Republicans, and a junior in Gallatin is certainly one of these students. She is concentrating in Political Strategy, Marketing and Branding, and Law and hopes to one day hold a position in public office.

Powers prefers not to identify herself starkly as a Republican, since people tend to have preconceptions about both Republicans and Democrats. But she takes pleasure in sitting in class and feeling that she could very likely be the only one who shares her perspective. She believes that “you learn a lot more from people when you realize you may not always be right.” Her presence as a Republican student in a presumed Democratic environment present the opportunity for people to reflect upon their opinions.

In leading the NYU Republicans, Powers fundamentally hopes to engage other students in politics, which she notes there is a lack of at such a politically relevant school like NYU. The reason, Powers thinks, is that people don’t feel as compelled to join in on politics at NYU because everybody already more or less agrees with one another. As a minority, NYU Republicans have become a tight knit minority since there is more of an inclination to band together and take solace in a group that shares politics opinions most of their peers might not share.

There have only been a couple of instances in which Powers faced legitimate opposition to her political opinions. The one she recounted was that of a professor’s refusal to exempt her from a class wide assignment to march in the Occupy Wall Street march, even though doing so would compromise her political beliefs. Powers eventually got her way by talking to her professor’s boss and showed up to class on the day of the march to an empty classroom.

Powers says her “strongest opinions are based on personal experiences. I would hope I’m not sitting on the absolute wrong side of history, I think I’m open enough for that to happen.” This openness is shared between NYU Republicans and NYU Democrats at the annual debate between the two clubs and allows for the exchange of ideas and an exercise in political opinion. The two clubs have a back and forth relationship, the dynamic of a debate, but ultimately each appreciates what the other club does. Despite seemingly contradictory beliefs Powers says that “most people fundamentally agree. Those are the nice moments where we can recognize that we all kind of want the same things; stability, we want people to be happy, safe.”

One would expect there to be obstacles for a Republican minority but the biggest challenge is that not a lot of people are even aware they exist. There are 1,400 people on the listserve, but on average only 45 will show up to the Thursday meetings. Surprisingly, the numbers are similar for NYU Democrats. The challenge is not bipartisanship, but partisanship at all.

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