Q&A with Junior Ali Dastjerdi, President of Bridge Politics
Q: What made you want to start the club?
A: So, I thought that East had a lot of different organizations that do a lot of effective and important things, but I’m a person who’s done a lot of years of debate, Youth and Government, Mock Trial, all of that, I’m a big believer of the political system, the way that laws our made, the ways that change can happen, and even though grassroots clubs like Environmental Club and Coalition are fantastic and effective, I think one aspect of the necessary approach to maybe the world better is politics. So I thought that creating an environment in which individuals could not only speak their mind and engage in discussions on the issue but also an environment in which people could organize and take action.
Q: What do you do at meetings?
A: So, usually there are three, like, planks to the schedule that I make. The first one is, we usually start off by talking about, like, some updates of the club and what we’re doing, but also ideas for local advocacy. So, for example, when the PV elections were about to happen, one of the topics of discussion was PV voter turnout, getting people informed on the elections that are happening. The club that weekend went out to houses in the areas where there was a contested election and handed out voter reminders. So, the first half is like local true advocacy that the club can do. The second one is usually a national-based policy discussion, so we’ll usually discuss what’s in the news as far as Congress is concerned, the bills that they are proposing — anything on a national level that just an interesting discussion would be important. And then finally, we usually like to just end the day off with something funny. So, like a political gaffe, a “Colbert Report” clip, something amusing and a lighthearted way to finish the day.
Q: What do you hope for the future of the club?
A: Next year, some of the goals are to definitely try to organize the club a little more so that it can be more effective and more active. So there are different ways that can happen, hopefully, maybe coordinating a little more with Coalition and Environmental Club as an organization that would aid in their endeavors. lso maybe mimicking Coalition’s months where they have certain initiatives in which we have a schedule and we find certain things to do. There are a lot of things that can be done every year, it just requires a lot more planning and a lot more time. So hopefully next year when the club starts up at the beginning of the year we can plan those things of ahead of time and actually pursue them.
Q: Why is the club called Bridge Politics?
A: To be honest, when we went to the bookkeeper, she already had like a name account thing made for Bridge Politics, so it was, like, logistically simpler to call it Bridge Politics. I think the term ‘Bridge Politics’ also just stems from like a group that just discusses, which admittedly wasn’t the name I wanted to call it. I wanted just to call it the SME Political Union, because colleges, for example, organizations that do things similar to what I have planned out for the club that actually do things instead of just discuss are called political unions. So, logistically simpler to just call it ‘Bridge Politics.’
Q: Is there any certain cause or issue that the club as a whole rallies behind?
A: To respond to that, one of the beauties of Bridge Politics Club and maybe one of the challenges of it as far as activism goes is that we don’t want to take one side of the issues, so when we did PV voter turnout, even though there were individuals in the club who preferred certain candidates, the reminders didn’t say vote for so and so but rather simply reminded individuals to vote. When we tried to get candidates to come, we didn’t just invite a candidates from a party, but rather we sent out an invitation to every candidate. So the goal of the club isn’t to take a certain initiative and to pursue it politically but rather to create an environment where more people are aware of the political issues and more able to take action upon it.