A more moderate campus political climate

Taylor Stone '22, Copy Editor

Since their foundations in 2014 and 2006 respectively, the Rhodes College Democrats and Republicans have been an active presence on the Rhodes campus. This semester, Rhodes hosted a forum for Tennessee senatorial candidate Phil Bredesen, which some believe revealed a heightening partisan gap in the student body. Aside from the Democratic and Republican student organizations, no moderate political voices are officially represented.

For Emily English ’20, the founder of the Independent Student Organization, the idea for ISO began brewing right after she attended the SACK Fair on Aug. 28. She was disheartened to find only the two political organizations. What began as a hopeful idea one month ago now has permanent members, elected officers and is actively working to ratify a constitution. In addition to getting officially approved, the important task of getting funding lies ahead for ISO.

“The most fundamental goal of ISO is to provide representation for students who don’t feel represented by the other political organizations on campus,” English said. “I think it’s very important to have a place to be representedespecially when you are part of a minority in terms of your ideology.”

Along with the goal of creating a space for previously non-represented students, the organization aims to be known as a group of students who are actively involved in politics on campus, who will hopefully lead a change in the political climate of Rhodes’ campus.

ISO was formed based on the concern of the negative effects of a solely two-party system in U.S. politicsincluding hateful partisanship, political radicalization, as well as an inability to carry political-based conversations in a civil manner. ISO plans to tackle these issues head-on at Rhodes and in the Memphis community as a whole.

In order to successfully take on these issues, ISO plans to host regular discussion-based meetings covering a variety of relevant topics in a politically-neutral environment. Along with these discussion-meetings, ISO will host events that provide Rhodes students with the tools needed to have civil, as well as productive, political discussions with one another, and to launch advocacy campaigns for the problems occuring in politics today. They also hope to host speakers and debates with other political organizations on campus as the organization grows.

ISO will also be a place for students who have been looking to change the political climate on campusgoing beyond students who don’t identify with a dominant party.  

“I sincerely hope and believe that ISO will be able to tackle these issues, but we won’t be able to do that without the support of others who believe what we do,” English said.