West Side Story

  • Dine Out For Education will be on Sept. 27

  • Girls cross country will have a meet at Southeast Polk High School on Sept. 27

  • Boys golf will have a meet at Finkbine Golf Course on Sept. 27

  • Varsity football plays away at Linn-Mar High School on Sept. 28

  • Music Auxiliary Car Wash will be on Sept. 29

Club Connection: Students for Open Discussion

Students for Open Discussion, a new club at West, seeks to fill the void other political clubs left.

The+members+of+Students+for+Open+Discussion+gather+for+a+photo.+From+left+to+right%2C+back+row+first%3A+Brendon+Aitken%2C+Ronan+Smith+%2720%2C+Danny+Rompot+%2719%2C+Simon+Jones+%2719%2C+Sam+Gienapp+%2719%2C+Logan+Pfannebecker+%2719%2C+Hanna+O%27Dell+%2719.
The members of Students for Open Discussion gather for a photo. From left to right, back row first: Brendon Aitken, Ronan Smith '20, Danny Rompot '19, Simon Jones '19, Sam Gienapp '19, Logan Pfannebecker '19, Hanna O'Dell '19.

The members of Students for Open Discussion gather for a photo. From left to right, back row first: Brendon Aitken, Ronan Smith '20, Danny Rompot '19, Simon Jones '19, Sam Gienapp '19, Logan Pfannebecker '19, Hanna O'Dell '19.

Alyssa Skala

Alyssa Skala

The members of Students for Open Discussion gather for a photo. From left to right, back row first: Brendon Aitken, Ronan Smith '20, Danny Rompot '19, Simon Jones '19, Sam Gienapp '19, Logan Pfannebecker '19, Hanna O'Dell '19.

If you were to ask upperclassmen about the Republican and Democrats Clubs, many would say that they remember them fondly. Yet in recent years with most members graduating and others quitting, those clubs only exist as memories. Some students who were disappointed in the dissolvement of the clubs have created a new club where all ideologies are welcome.

Students for Open Discussion is a new addition to the many clubs at West. It seeks to foster a healthy environment to discuss issues facing society today. Located in room 222 and sponsored by Social Studies teacher Brendon Aitken, the club welcomes new members at any time, regardless of their political leanings.

“We accept anyone to join, as well as their opinions. We will try our best to promote open discussion,” said Logan Pfannebecker ’19, one of the founding members of the club. “With many of the other members of Conservative club leaving or graduating as well as the Democrat club for the most part disbanding, we felt the need to create a club for political discussion that would promote open discussion between ideologies.”

“We accept anyone to join, as well as their opinions. We will try our best to promote open discussion.” ”

— Logan Pfannebecker ’19

Discussions in the club tend to be free-flowing and can quickly jump from topic to topic, and the atmosphere is cordial and laid-back. They even welcome students that wish to sit back and listen to the discussions. Attendance isn’t required and expectations are relaxed.

“We pretty much just sit around and talk about politics and social issues and look through CNN, FOX and Pew Research Center,” said Hanna O’Dell ’19, another founding member of the club.

“We pretty much just sit around and talk about politics and social issues,””

— Hanna O’Dell ’19

Although attendance to the first meeting was small, various different viewpoints were represented. There was agreement between members on issues ranging from the news media to Colin Kaepernick’s new ad campaign with Nike. Regarding Kaepernick, the group also touched upon his self-proclaimed ‘ten points’: his ten virtues.

The focus rested on the eighth point: “You have the right to be trusted.” Some members of the group argued that trust should be earned and never given. However, in the end it was agreed upon that everyone should be given the same trust at face value. The leaders are confident that the relaxed attitude and quick agreement in the club will stick.

“I think [discussions will remain open]. If we keep it respectful and calm, and if everyone is understanding that this is the goal, then I definitely believe it can remain open,” said tertiary founder Sam Gienapp ’19.

“If we keep it respectful and calm, and if everyone is understanding that this is the goal, then I definitely believe it can remain open,””

— Sam Gienapp ’19

Aitken, the club sponsor, also expressed his desire to keep the club as open as possible and ensure that it remains a safe space.

“I like the idea of having it in a safe space like school; it’s less likely to get out of hand, and there’s less willingness to be disrespectful,” said Aitken. “I don’t like the idea of being afraid to talk about a topic, because then people are afraid to talk about it because of misconceptions, afraid of being judged. If we’re open, we can at least get past these misconceptions or at least understand them, and have that open space.”

As for the future, the leaders are somewhat uncertain what direction to take the club in, but hope to expand and broaden their ideological representation. Some wish to hold large debates, while some just want to help make discussions civil.

“I don’t like the idea of being afraid to talk about a topic, because then people are afraid to talk about it because of misconceptions, afraid of being judged. If we’re open, we can at least get past these misconceptions or at least understand them, and have that open space.””

— Brendon Aitken

“We plan to hold school-wide debates for people to watch or participate in, much like what used to happen between the Conservative Club and the Democrats Club, and our sponsor Mr. Aitken brought up bringing back D.C. trips, which I think would be pretty cool,” said Pfannebecker.

“It would be great to be able to expand the club. If people are willing to have a civilized discussion without name calling and partisanship, it would be really good for both sides,” added Gienapp.

Regardless of what happens, the leaders of the club wish for continued mutual discussions between sides and a safe, respectful place to discuss issues.

 

Students for Open Discussion meets on Wednesday afternoons from 4pm to 6pm in Room 222.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






About the Contributors
Simon Jones, Designer
Simon Jones is senior at West High. This will be his first and only year on staff as a designer. When he’s not being crushed by school, you can find him working at the movie theaters, colorizing black and white portraits and listening to music too loudly.
Alyssa Skala, Photographer
Alyssa Skala is a sophomore at West High and she is a first year photographer on staff. In her free time she likes to play volleyball and is involved in a lot of clubs.
Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Club Connection: Students for Open Discussion

    Club Connection

    Club Connection: Pep Club

  • Club Connection: Students for Open Discussion

    Club Connection

    Club Connection: Writers’ workshop club

  • Club Connection: Students for Open Discussion

    Club Connection

    4 days until competition one: robotics club prepares

  • Club Connection: Students for Open Discussion

    Club Connection

    Club connection: Speech and Debate

  • Club Connection: Students for Open Discussion

    Club Connection

    Club connection: EATS

  • Club Connection: Students for Open Discussion

    Club Connection

    Club connection: Art Club

  • Club Connection: Students for Open Discussion

    Club Connection

    Club connection: cultural connection: Korea

  • Club Connection: Students for Open Discussion

    Club Connection

    Club connection: G! World

  • Club Connection

    Club connection: Knowledge Masters

  • Club Connection: Students for Open Discussion

    Club Connection

    Club connection: Truth Squad

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The student news site of West High School
Club Connection: Students for Open Discussion