By Kathryn Jones
The 21-year-old vice president of New York University’s College Republicans balances right-winged views with the liberalism and opportunities of New York City.
Four days before the 2013 New York City mayoral election, Megan Powers alongside other NYUCR members quizzed students outside NYU’s Bobst Library on identifying the images of politicians. all students correctly identified President Barack Obama. 66 percent correctly named Vice President Joseph Biden, and 50 percent Mayor Michael Bloomberg. However, only 30 percent recognized then Mayoral Candidate Bill de Blasio.
“It’s not to say people don’t care about politics, but it’s just that you only have so many hours in a day, and people really have so many choices to spend those hours. So I think a lot of them choose kind of to go towards their career interests,” said Powers
Powers herself did not find a passion for politics until the 2008 presidential election with candidates Obama and John McCain. During a lunch period of her sophomore year at high school, the Virginia native listened to boys insulting and questioning how people could vote for McCain. But a teacher told Powers that about half of the country would vote for him, which led the sophomore into delving deeper into McCain’s policies for a reason to this conclusion. Powers said she felt that all ideologies “needed to be said and heard.”
Yet, she later lost her interest in politics after volunteering for Virginia state senate campaign by door-to-door marketing for her candidate in summer 2011. Powers would go on to study film and television at NYU, or though she thought for about three months until she returned to her lost passion.
“I realized that to me, politics is the most important thing that really exists in terms of studying. The most fundamentally important thing is stability in America and the provision for a happy life for people and to just create stability in the world,” said Powers, “So that’s when I knew that though I really hated it, I was married to it forever.”
Whether she is debating against the College Democrats or sitting in a politics class, classmates and professors know Powers as the outspoken student who is not afraid to say what she believes. According to Powers, she mostly receives positive feedback for her speaking up, but has had some issues with people accepting her voicing conservative beliefs.
“I’ve had teachers respect my opinion and thank me for contributing kind of a dissenting opinion, and I’ve had one or two teachers that have not appreciated it as much,” said the college junior, studying political strategy, marketing and branding, and law.
A negative incident occurred in 2011 when a professor assigned the then-freshman Powers to participate in an Occupy Wall Street protest. Instead of meeting in the classroom, the professor assigned students to march from the Washington Square campus to Zuccotti Park. However, Powers refused to identify with protesters and faced a grade deduction if she did not attend. After pleading her case to her professor’s supervisor, Powers sat in her classroom on the day of the protest without receiving any grade for the assignment. Yet, she still felt upset after the lack of respect towards her opinion, Powers said.
“I stayed in the College Republicans because I felt very compelled to stay in it because I really recognized that I was a small minority in my classrooms. So I think that’s what compels a lot of people to come to College Republicans and stay there because they found a group of people that tends to pretty much agree with them, or they can identify with on certain issues. But I think for a lot of Democrats on campus, they don’t feel compelled in that way because everyone already agrees with you, pretty much or why not just do your other stuff and feel safe that everyone already agrees with you,” said Powers.
NYU’s Republicans range from libertarian to very conservative and socially moderate to socially liberal, creating a variety of views that mix at Thursday meetings or challenge the College Democrats at debates on topics such as gun control, fracking, and health policies.
“I didn’t and still don’t like identifying myself starkly as Republican because I think that giving it the name males people have all these preconceptions about the term Republican and the term Democrat that I don’t necessarily identify with. I’d rather people say more right-leaning than ask me my specific,” said Powers.
Powers believes in gender and marriage equality, placing stricter regulations on Russia, possession of arms for registered citizens, the least amount of government regulation in the economy as possible yet assistance for those in need, and a separation between social and political issues. Open to ideas on immigration, she said that she has yet to see the best form of regulation, feeling the current one hurts economy.
For views ranging from liberal to conservative, she gained inspiration from her own life. She being militaristic and favoring equality comes from her experiences as the only daughter in her family, amongst three sons who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and followed their father’s footsteps in the military, and living abroad.
“I feel that my strongest opinions are based off personal experience,” said Powers, “[But] there are simply things I don’t know that can change my opinion.” “You learn a lot more from people when you’re willing to kind of agree that maybe you’re not completely right,” said Powers.
She worked for Congressman Morgan Griffith on Capitol Hill and plans on working for the Republican National Committee this summer. Powers hopes in 15 years to run as a candidate for a local state office, Congress, or a state legislature.
“I hope that people in 15 years are focusing more on economic issues. I really hope that we’re at a point kind of financially where we are stable enough to – instead of be trying to backpedal the national debt – we’re looking forward to what we can leave for the next generation and ours kids,” said Powers.