Photo by Oliver Chapin-Eiserloh
To fully embody the definition of the word “maverick,” a person has to be an unorthodox and independently minded individual. They must break away from the current and make an effort to carve their own path with their own ideas.
The Maverick Society was established this Fall semester with the goal of cultivating an environment open to all political viewpoints and opinions where students can debate. Sophomore Ben Falcon is the club’s founder and president. (Falcon is an opinion columnist for the Trinitonian.)
“That’s what we’re kind of wanting to offer the student body here on campus,” Falcon said. “That opportunity to develop a Maverick political identity in which [students are] not being influenced by their families, their peers or any echo chambers or being limited or restricted in that way. So that way they’re in an environment in which they can develop themselves independently.”
Falcon, along with sophomores Gail Hodges, Matthew Garr and Ethan Crane, created the club because they felt like there wasn’t a group on campus that was fully open to having discussions with differing views.
“We felt that there was a need on campus for a conversation about politics that wasn’t slanted or created with the intent of promoting a particular viewpoint. We wanted to have a real debate,” Falcon said.
The club meets every other week, and meetings usually average at least 10 students.
They start each meeting by going over general announcements, and then they start debating. A topic question is posed to the group, and participants can then choose to walk to opposing sides of the room representing the two sides of the topic. If they are unsure, they can take a stance in the middle. Each side is gets lots of time to voice their opinions, and Falcon usually mediates the discussions.
“I just find this to be cool because I’m able to hear other political opinions as well and just kind of challenge my own and expand a little bit,” said sophomore Matthew Garr, chief of club staff. “Cause you’ll hear something that you know, you haven’t really thought it from that angle before and then you can build on that.”
The topics are chosen from a poll that was sent out to members from the beginning of the year, but they also discuss current issues as they surface. Some topics that they have discussed are gun control, abortion and gender and sexuality.
They usually focus on two issues within the topic that they discuss to be more concise with the large nature of the topics at hand. According to sophomore and Maverick Society treasurer Ethan Crane, some debates become more heated than others as people become animated about their views, but the club tries to avoid hostility.
“People get heated just because they’re very passionate about these issues, and that’s what we would expect of people that show up to this club, to care about what they’re talking about,” Crane said. “But in terms of being respectful and understanding each other’s perspectives, having ended the discussion, I think everyone still is amicable with each other, and it works out.”
The group is trying to expand their membership as well as their diversity of opinions, as most of their current members lean to the left.
“The more that you challenge your views, the stronger they’re going to become and the stronger your arguments are going to become the more that you actually talk about them,” said sophomore Jacob Exler, vice president of the club. “So instead of just talking about them with people you agree with, you have to talk to people you disagree with; even if you strongly disagree with them, you have to, in my opinion,” Exler said.
First-year Ezra Serebrin often finds himself a part of the minority in the discussions as he has more conservative viewpoints, but he’s not discouraged by the disparity.
“I just like to hear other viewpoints,” Serebrin said. “I like to hear what other people think, that’s why I started coming. I think I do like the debate atmosphere for what it is, but also that there’s conflicts. I think it’s enjoyable.”
In the future, the club hopes to collaborate with other organizations on campus and host panel discussions and lectures that the Trinity community can get involved in.
“We are an open organization to all people, all ideologies, as long as they promote their beliefs in a civil, respectful way,” Falcon said.