In a national atmosphere of increasingly polarized politics, a rare bipartisan effort emerged at the University of Richmond last week.
On Thursday night, UR’s two major student political groups, College Republicans and College Democrats, an affiliate of the Young Democrats organization, hosted a mixer in an effort to cross party lines and, well, party.
“It’s hard to be ill-disposed of one another if you’re having a fun time,” Andrew Brennan, RC '17, leader of College Republicans, said.
The event was held at Nuevo Mexico Restaurante and approximately a hundred students of various political affiliations attended.
Shannon Kane, WC '19, treasurer of College Democrats, and Mason Zadan, RC '20, vice chair of College Republicans came up with the idea for the social mixer.
According to Kane, the goal of the event was to show good faith on all sides, have fun and realize that a person’s political views don’t have to define their personality or social life.
“At the end of the day, both organizations exist to make UR, the community and the nation better, and it is best to do so together,” Kane said. “We don’t hate each other and we want to do things together. We need to be able to talk to each other and joke around.”
Joking around did happen at the mixer. Everyone, no matter their political affiliation, appeared to be having a great time.
Students mingled with one another, talking about everything except politics — although, that didn’t stop someone from putting a Hillary Clinton campaign sticker on Brennan’s back as a good-humored prank.
"This past election has caused a great deal of tension between political parties, so it was nice to see people from both sides partake in the event, despite their different opinions and beliefs," Emma Dressel, WC '20, a member of College Republicans, said.
Because of the mixer, both clubs look forward to potentially working together in the future. College Republicans is planning to include funds for future socials and other bipartisan events in its budget for next year.
College Democrats is also hoping to having another mixer in the future, and is currently planning on co-hosting a health care forum with College Republicans to take place later this semester.
“This mixer helped put us past our differences,” Brennan said.
Kane shared this sentiment.
“Both sides get such a negative perception,” Kane said. “We’re not just partisan. This mixer was the first of many steps in the direction of proving that.”
Contact reporter Julia Raimondi at firstname.lastname@example.org.