by Ananya Bhattacharya
When her entire class was out on a graded class assignment, participating in Occupy Wall Street with the other demonstrators, Megan Powers sat in her classroom alone. Holding her ground, Powers was unwilling to partake in an activity that defied her political beliefs.
Politics wasn’t always a passion for Powers. What began as a club in freshman year for Powers has become a means of raising political awareness amongst her peers for her now. A junior in Gallatin School of Individualized Study in New York University, Powers has been the Vice President of NYU College Republicans since October 2013.
The club meets every Thursday and they often host guest speakers. NYU College Republicans, along with NYU College Democrats, are organizations that aim to spread the basic tenets of their ideologies. By independently and jointly hosting forums, speeches, events and issue advocacy, they aim to initiate and encourage student involvement in the political process.
As one of the main events of the year, the NYU College Republicans and Democrats come together to stage a debate on a fairly unbiased topic, with little or no regulation. This garners a lot of positive response because the environment is not hostile and “we all appreciate the other side,” said Powers.
Powers admits that awareness of the club’s existence is very low, translating into low participation. This has especially been true post the 2012 election, since interest in politics tends to wane after the election season due to lack of personal interest as well as media coverage.
“We are trying to get more online attention to increase the recognition of politics,” said Powers. A political strategy, marketing and branding and law major today, Powers had initially come to NYU with the intention of studying Film at NYU Tisch. However, her interest in politics sparked off her ambition of being involved in “campaigning, consulting and political strategy.”
“When I was a sophomore in high school, I knew nothing about politics. During lunch, people would have debates and discussions. I vividly remember a group of boys saying that voting for McCain was stupid. I asked one of my professors how many people would then vote for McCain and the response I got was ‘Half the country’.” This made Powers offer another view at the lunch table and start to “fight for the underdog,” which in this case was the Republican Party. Little did she know that she was slowly discovering a passion for politics.
Powers pursued her passion by volunteering at the Washington D.C. State Senate Campaign in the summer of 2012, going from door-to-door, asking people to vote for her candidate. Although Powers is more Republican with economic policies, she is not afraid to engage in stimulating discourse with the Democratic view too. With her increasing interest in the world of politics, Powers does not hesitate to dabble with issues of social policy that fuel controversy such as abortion, health care, marriage equality, women in the workforce along with pressing matters like immigration, recognizing that it is “such a short word, but touches every part of our country.”
Her personal views are not staunch nor are they unmalleable, because “having staunch viewpoints, most of the time, is counterproductive,” according to Powers. Growing up in a family with 3 older brother and a father who were enlisted in the army, she always felt that she was not “fast enough, strong enough or boy enough”. “I know how hard it is to fight against something that you can’t change,” said Powers. As a Republican amongst many Democrats, Powers now takes the opportunity of being the supposed minority to distinguish her views by being open to others. Not all of her views are strongly Republican
“People telling you [bad] stories are much more hot-headed than myself.” Powers explains hostile interactions by saying that “If you go at them negatively, they’ll recoil at you.” During Occupy Wall Street, while her professor compelled the class to participate in the demonstrations, creating a grade component of the event, Powers stood her ground and refused to go against her personal belief. “I tend to be all about personal choices,” Powers says.