Political conversation or the ASU-Stanford football game? 175 chose conversation.
It’s a Thursday night at Arizona State University, and 42,000 people are packed into Sun Devil Football Stadium to watch the Stanford-ASU game on October 18th.
At the same time, on the very same night, 175 ASU community members gathered at the Student Pavilion on campus for an event called “Bridging the Gap.” The event was organized by ASU’s chapter of BridgeUSA — BridgeASU.
The president of BridgeASU, senior Josh Fixel, explained the event:
This was an excellent opportunity for students to expose themselves to new viewpoints and converse with people that hold differing opinions. We had 17 roundtables, each with a professor or student organization representative that led a discussion on a topic they felt passionately about, such as immigration, congressional representation, space exploration, animal welfare and foreign policy.
Every 15 minutes, students moved from one table to the next, joining a new conversation with fresh perspectives. Exposure to new viewpoints wasn’t the only benefit. One student in attendance, Kyle Gronsky, recalled that the event allowed him to practice thinking about politics in a more rigorous way.
“It was a refreshing change from the typical political debates. It promotes effective civil conversation that makes everyone think about the logical side of politics,” said Kyle.
An Officer of BridgeASU, Zoe Isaac, described how the event confirmed her sense of urgency that conversations which span ideological political divides are sorely needed. “175 people showed up to our event on the night of an ASU football game. That just shows what Bridge has already made clear: there is not only a need, but a desire for these spaces. You could feel that the second you walked in the door.”
BridgeASU’s founder and president, Josh, said the incredible turnout for their “Bridging the Gap Event” has sparked media exposure for the organization. With the event coming on the brink of the midterm elections, camera crews were on the ground at ASU, and MSNBC’s Gadi Schwartz reported on BridgeASU in the context of growing student interest in politics and voting.
BridgeASU has had numerous moments of public attention recently, mainly due to their huge event. The organization will be co-sponsoring an upcoming Post-Election event with the ASU School of Civil and Economic Thought and Leadership, and plans to increase their presence on campus.
Fixel said that MSNBC felt BridgeASU was worth a more in depth look, praising the organization for its youthful energy and new tactics for bringing people together.
“You guys are a fresh approach to politics and bring us hope” was the sentiment with which the crew from MSNBC left BridgeASU.
Keep on bringing the hope, BridgeASU.