All of the students I’ve talked to this fall have had one weighty sentiment in common: awareness of and usually frustration with NYU’s political homogeneity. It’s heartening to know that a lot of the people I’m surrounded by here are also trying to seek out the other side; to find those people whose views deviate from the liberal NYU atmosphere. We seek contradictions in different ways. My way is through these dialogues, and they haven’t been a failure. I’m certainly learning the stories behind my classmates’ political opinions and the nuances of their political beliefs. But I have yet to make sense of the side I’m not on.
LS freshman Eileen Garcia gained political awareness early on in life. She made sense of the other side while growing up in Miami and came to college with a unique grasp on difference. She’s lucky. To understand why people think differently is a privilege, and it’s not easy to do when you feel fenced in by sameness.
Emily Fagel: How do you identify politically?
Eileen Garcia: I would identify as a Democrat.
EF: Have you always identified this way?
EF: Where did you grow up?
EG: Miami, Florida.
EF: Did where you grew up influence your political views?
EG: Yes and no. What’s really interesting about Miami, specifically, is [that] Hispanics are known to vote Democrat, with the exception of Cubans. So, growing up, a lot of my friends’ families were voting Republican, which I found interesting, because, at least [with] the way I view certain topics, I would say that Democrats are more in our favor or better for the issues that we want to tackle. So, as far as my family went, and people close to me and around me, we were all pretty left-leaning, but we did grow up surrounded by a lot of right-leaning [people], which was interesting.
EF: Did the people you went to school with influence your political views in any way?
EG: I would say yeah, just because I did get exposure to the other side pretty frequently, which I felt was interesting. It put me in an interesting position because I don’t think that a lot of people can say the same. I understood why people would feel contrary to how I felt. [That] didn’t mean that I really understood enough to side with them, but I at least had that understanding that we may come from similar backgrounds and just think completely differently.
EF: Do your other identities, like your gender, race or ethnicity, influence your views in any way?
EG: For sure. I think being a woman of color definitely puts me in a category.
EF: How do you feel in the NYU community so far, based on your political identity? What do you feel like you’re surrounded by?
EG: Sometimes I wish there [were] more differing points of view, because I feel like a big part of going to university is being exposed to different ways of thinking. So, on the one hand, it’s nice, because I am surrounded by people who think very similarly to how I think. But at the same time, I feel like I lack that other side, and I lack that understanding that I grew up around.
EF: Do you have any career goals that align with your political views?
EG: I’m interested in Latino outreach and campaigning as well as healthcare policy. Today, I actually just got confirmation that I’m doing an internship next semester with a Latino outreach organization, and they are extremely left-leaning. So I would definitely say [that] a lot of the issues that I’m interested in tackling [career-wise], I’m interested in tackling them from a Democrat’s point of view.
Email Emily Fagel at [email protected].