BridgeUSA, a new club on campus, is working to bridge the partisan gap on college campuses to make a better democracy for the future.
Political science sophomore, Grace Reiff, co-founded this club with three other freshmen in winter of 2023.
Now the president, she conducted the club’s first meeting last spring.
“We just talk about difficult things that usually aren’t seen eye to eye when it comes to a person who’s more left wing or right wing,” Reiff said. “And we hear different perspectives and we don’t listen to argue, but rather we listen to learn and to understand and empathize with the person.”
BridgeUSA is a national organization Reiff was looking to bring to Cal Poly’s campus.
The club welcomes all grades and majors in order to bring in a variety of perspectives from different parts of campus.
Since the club’s first meeting, Reiff said members have been very positive and open to learning from others.
“I mean there’s obviously some tension in the air, but it’s more that we’re peeking at each other’s interests and asking more questions from a question,” Reiff said.
The club’s goal is to continue growing the number of people at their meetings with a range of political ideologies and majors to have these challenging conversations.
Students at the fall quarter club fair showed a lot of interest.
“I had people come up to me and they were like, ‘this is awesome,’” Reiff said. “‘Like, we need a club like this. We need to hear each other’s perspectives so that we aren’t having these impossible political discussions.’”
At their meetings, Reiff asks the group five questions to discuss and then they heavily focus on one specific topic. Many times they start with a more lighthearted topic to make the group feel more comfortable.
Vice president, political science sophomore Madison Mairs, said the club has made her look at current events with a new mindset.
“When we bring topics to the club to discuss, I get to hear about it from what other people know of the topic and their own personal experience, how that plays into it. “Mairs said. “Which is really giving me a well-rounded, more broad sense of understanding for current events,”
BridgeUSA meets every other Wednesday at 8:10 pm in the Erhart Agriculture building.