York College’s History and Political Science Student Union brings mindful discussion back to academia
From ads on television to social media posts that flood newsfeeds, sometimes political dialogue feels like nothing more than shouts from sides that aren’t really listening to one another.
A group of students at York College of Pennsylvania wants to change that, so they formed the History and Political Science Student Union, which seeks to better harness the great minds and materials available at the college and to foster the type of dialogue that permits all honest thoughts to be heard and considered.
"It felt like people are just unable to exchange ideas anymore," said Andrey Romanov, a junior International Relations major. "We need real inquiry. But, instead, it's like people just collide with one another."
Jumping in head first
Three weeks after the new student union was formed in the fall of 2016, Christian Harris found himself in York College's Weinstock Lecture Hall, helping to host the two candidates – Carol Hill-Evans and Joel Sears – for Pennsylvania's vacant 95th District House of Representatives seat.
Dozens attended the forum, which was covered by local media just days before the election.
"I'm still in awe it went as smoothly as it did," said Christian, a senior Political Science major. "Really, it brought me a lot of joy to see how we came together and how it benefitted the community."
The plan is to grow from there. The new semester will likely bring more forums, as well as lectures, film screenings, reading discussions and field trips, as the organization's two dozen-plus members look to expand their reach around the community.
The group will also expand its new publication, with an eye toward promoting students' work and ideas.
Leaving a legacy
The York Journal of History & Politics will feature everything from student research papers to opinion and analysis, with the hope of drawing more people in the college community into a thoughtful discussion.
"It's about sharing knowledge," Andrey explained.
And, as the History and Political Science Student Union expands, hopefully that knowledge base and the spirit behind it will continue to grow.
New members are always welcome, and so are new ideas.
"If I could leave one legacy it would be a thriving and active political organization like this on campus," Christian said. "Sometimes, you can do a lot of good on just a small scale."
Rediscovering a way to connect
Where can we go from here? Today headlines cry of stabbings and mass shootings, of war-torn swaths of land across the world. People stare, ever more scared, into the computer screen.
“You see these terrible things happen, and it seems like somewhere along the way we lost our humanity,” Andrey said. “That’s what we need to rediscover – all of us.”
So, how can we find ways to reconnect? For the History and Political Science Student Union, it begins with a spirit of inquiry, with open minds and with the hope of building a platform to share and study all viewpoints.
From there, at York College, progress will swell as wide as students’ willingness to listen and to learn from one another, and to then leave their mark in the community and beyond.
"I think that here you really find this overall drive toward making ideas come true,” Andrey said. “And that search for improvement is what we’re all about.”