A sign sits on a table informing discussion participants what the political topic is and who’s commenting it at the Student Pavilion on the Tempe campus on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021/Photo by Angelina Steel | The State Press.
By Alexis Waiss | State Press
Members of ASU’s political organizations, various students and professors, all with the intent of discussing politically divisive social issues, gathered in the Senita Ballroom for the third annual Bridge the Gap event Thursday.
Organized by Bridge ASU, the event was meant to provide a safe space for members of the University community to learn more about policy and gain an understanding of differing political views on issues likeCOVID-19 regulations, climate change, carrying firearms on campus, immigration, abortion, censorship and voting.
According to survey data gathered by the Pew Research Center, voter attitudes on disputes related to race, gender, religion and immigration were more polarized before the 2020 presidential election than they were in 2016.
Guest speakers and several student organizations — ASU Young Democrats, ASU College Republicans, the Alexander Hamilton Society, Young Americans for Liberty and more — divided into 17 stations. Each moderated 15-minute intervals of “civic dialogue” about a specific issue.
Due to COVID-19, Thursday’s event was the first of its kind since 2019. Over 100 people attended this year’s event.
Makenzie Tyson, political affairs director at Bridge ASU and a junior studying political science and justice studies, kicked off this year’s event with words of encouragement in response to society’s intensifying political polarization.
“Bridge USA was born in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, when polarization and hostility were at all-time highs and unfortunately, those feelings have only increased,” Tyson said. “It’s going to take all of us committing to changing the political climate here at ASU if we want to change the political climate in our country.”