by Nina Zade
It is difficult to imagine any type of progressive conservative movement at New York University, number 1 liberal destination for all Democratic students alike. Yet Megan Powers, twenty-one year old junior at NYU, Vice President of the College Republicans, and President of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority refutes this notion in its entirety. With such a bright future ahead of her, she was not always so sure of her political stance and viewpoints.
As a first semester freshman, Powers was encouraged by her parents to attend Club Fest and join a club to make “nice friends”. After joining both the College Republicans and College Democrats, she found that the Republicans were a better fit for her. “I didn’t and still don’t like identifying myself starkly as a Republican because I think that giving it the name [makes] people have all these preconceptions,” she says. Instead, Powers believes that political party affiliations belong on a spectrum, and she leans more to the right.
Powers first developed a love for politics during the 2008 presidential election when she overheard a group of boys at her lunch table discussing the flaws of candidate John McCain. She became intrigued by this debate, and figured that a popular candidate such as McCain should have his merits. “That’s when I started to argue against them on behalf of notions of ideology,” Megan said. “I wasn’t really doing it because I necessarily believed in these ideologies, but I just thought it was necessary for them to be said and heard, kind of like fighting for the underdog.”
In the summer of 2011, Powers volunteered on a state Senate campaign, going door to door and asking for votes for her candidate. “After that, I said I was done. I hated it. I was going to come to NYU, and I was going to study film and television,” she said. Even at NYU, Megan could not escape her belief that politics were the “most fundamentally important thing” for stability in the world. “That’s when I knew that even though I kind of hated it, I was married to it forever.”
Despite her humble and collected demeanor, Megan has received some backlash for her political viewpoints, though not as much as she expected. In one of her politics classes during her freshman year, Powers’ professor required all of the students to participate in a student march for Occupy Wall Street. She refused, and offered to write a paper instead. Although the conflict was not easily resolved, Powers says that most of the campus reception toward her views and the views of the club are positive. “That actually was one of the only times that one of my teachers was really negatively receiving me.”
Her biggest issue is not negative feedback, but the recruitment of new students for the College Republicans. To stimulate more active participation in politics among NYU students, the club invites several guest speakers such as party leader Ed Cox and 2nd Amendment activist Katie Pavlich. Along with the College Democrats, they hold political debates arguing prominent political issues. Megan sees a future where NYU students are more politically aware and know that they have a safe place to discuss their views.
As for her own path, Powers knows exactly what she plans to achieve. She has a political strategy oriented focus in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, interested in the psychology behind politics as well as domestic policy and the branding of candidates. A career beginning in campaign consulting and political strategy would be ideal for Megan, blooming into a local state office candidacy and eventually turning into a seat in Congress. “I really enjoy sitting in classes and knowing I’m probably the only one who shares my viewpoint,” she says. “You learn a lot more from people when you’re willing to kind of agree that maybe you’re not completely right.”