by Megan Zhang
As vice president of the College Republicans at New York University, Megan Powers leads a group of individuals whose political leanings are rather uncommon in liberal New York City.
Power first joined the College Republicans when she was a freshman, having been raised by conservative parents. However, she does not consider herself to have extremely right-wing beliefs. “I don’t like identifying myself starkly as a Republican,” said Powers. Powers explained that people have so many preconceptions about Republicans, Democrats, and their respective beliefs, that she feels hesitant to categorize herself. She said that, although members of the NYU College Republicans are more right-leaning than most, they are in general economically conservative, socially moderate, and socially liberal. Therefore, the club does not identify itself as very conservative, especially given the fact that NYU is located in the heart of a city that is known for its liberalness.
Powers explains that the members of the NYU Republicans and NYU Democrats are actually good friends, and that debates between the two clubs are without hostility. “We all ultimately want the same thing at NYU: more active participation in politics,” she said. However, in such a liberal atmosphere, the NYU Republicans do face some obstacles. “One of our biggest challenges is that not a lot of people are aware we exist,” she said. According to Powers, students often do not expect such a liberal school to even have a club dedicated to Republicans. Powers has also had professors receive her negatively for her more conservative beliefs. “My professor wanted us to participate in the student march for Occupy Wall Street,” said Powers. “I did not want to participate, and I told her I didn’t want to march and identify myself in the protesters. She told me I had to go, otherwise [my grade] would be deducted.” Only after Powers ended up speaking with the professor’s boss was she allowed to opt out of the protest, without a grade reduction.
Despite these challenges, Powers expresses that she is very open to hearing others’ beliefs and does not mind having beliefs that may not coincide with those of her classmates. “If you say something in a respectful manner and you’re willing to listen…people give you a mutual respect,” Powers said. “You learn a lot more from people when you can agree that you’re not completely right.”