Ahead of the 2020 election, the Peace and Conflict Club at the University of Utah held an open dialogue meeting intended to be a safe place for people of all political persuasions to come together and talk about their hopes and fears for the future of America. The event was held via Zoom on Oct. 20, 2020, and they were joined by Utah State Sen. Luz Escamilla who shared her thoughts and perspectives on this emotionally charged election.
We asked Cindy Keele, assistant and dialogue leader for Peace and Conflict Studies as well as a student at the U, to share her thoughts on the event.
What were your key takeaways from the discussion?
I was impressed with the civility and the genuine concern everyone expressed for each other. Despite some differing opinions, everyone seemed to agree that there is hope for improving as a society and not being as polarized!
What stood out as a few things students from all political persuasions are thinking about as we approach this election?
It’s interesting that everyone seemed worried about the polarization. There is a general consensus that we need to do better being inclusive and not alienating people we disagree with.
What would be some of your tips to students for having these kinds of civil conversations with friends you may not agree with politically?
Listen. It can be really hard, but oftentimes listening will get you to the root of the problem and you’ll discover you have more in common than you thought. Most people have a sense of right and wrong and want to do what’s right. Even if you can’t agree completely, be willing to have hard conversations. At the same time, be firm in your beliefs and know that your feelings and experiences are valid.