Bipartisan women’s student group aims to bridge ‘divisive’ political climate

Media Credit: Elizabeth Rickert | Staff Photographer

At the Bipartisan Women's Supper Club's first event Monday, former Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., told audience members to embrace bipartisanship during their college experiences.

The day after President Donald Trump’s upset election victory last November, Brigid Godfrey saw the anger and grief that pervaded campus and thought “what could help this?”

“Your school is supposed to feel like home, and it didn’t feel like home,” she said. “It felt very divided, for both sides.”

Godfrey, who is a former Hatchet reporter, said the solution was to create a bipartisan student group that could bring people together for events and discussions to bridge the political divide between students on all sides of the political spectrum. That’s how the Bipartisan Women’s Supper Club was born.

The group, formed last March, is launching it’s inaugural year with 57 new members and a mission to spread bipartisanship on a politically active campus.

The group, consisting of roughly equal numbers of right-wing, left-wing and independent female members, aims to bring women of all parties together, organization leaders said. The group’s leaders said it was important for this type of organization to be at GW to bring women together in an often “divisive” political climate.

“We aim to create an environment in which every sister feels comfortable expressing herself, no matter her beliefs.”

At its first event Monday, former Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., told audience members to embrace bipartisanship during their college experiences, a time when students often cement their political views.

“This is exactly the time you need to be exposed to different ideas, have your ideas challenged and to be able to talk through those so that you’re able to think carefully about how you feel politically,” Godfrey – the group’s left-wing chair – said.

Modeled after the U.S. Senate’s supper club, a group of bipartisan female senators who meet monthly at each other’s homes, GW’s supper club wants to build teamwork between political parties and focus on building friendships through their various events, Godfrey said.

Godfrey said the club hopes to meet bimonthly to discuss future events, like their LinkedIn-inspired headshot photoshoot.

But outside of their own events, the club is spreading bipartisanship to other organizations, hosting a political diversity training for GW’s chapter of Pi Beta Phi last Sunday. Three members of the organization led the event to educate chapter members about woman-to-woman communication, the dangers of being political on social media and making assumptions about people based on political beliefs, Godfrey said.

Pi Phi President Alexandra Kudatzky said the chapter decided to host the event in light of GW’s “divisive” political climate.

“We aim to create an environment in which every sister feels comfortable expressing herself, no matter her beliefs,” Kudatzky said.

Godfrey said the club didn’t accept every member who applied because they wanted to ensure even political discussions without an overwhelming number of left-leaning members on a campus with a liberal reputation.

The group accepted applications for the organization over the past few weeks, accepting nearly 60 members evenly spread across the political spectrum, she said.

“It’s all about improving the country and working towards a better America,” Godfrey said.

“We have the same goals and though we might look at them differently, we want the same things.”

Meredith Matthews, the club’s independent vice chair, said the need for female empowerment while discussing different viewpoints also drove the formation of the club.

“It’s more about your commitment to bipartisanship and if you see the value and importance of it,” Matthews said. “We are looking for women who see that bipartisanship is necessary for any greater goal.”

For students wary about committing to a political party, options other than Democratic and Republican – like Green Party or Independent – were available on the application.

Juliette Erath, right wing co-chair, said the club also wants to emphasize friendship and show women that they are not defined by their political beliefs and differences.

“We have the same goals and though we might look at them differently, we want the same things,” Erath said. “We want equality for women and nobody wants women behind.”

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