Photo by Tim Sackton on Flickr.

UCF students express their views on Thanksgiving political discussions

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After the heated election season and the seemingly increasing political divide in the country, some UCF students are left wondering if they’ll get a side of debate with their turkey this Thanksgiving.

“I get worried when it comes to my family because I grew up in a small town and their ideals are different than mine,” said junior entertainment management major John Deen.

Deen, 20, said he unfollowed some family members on social media who weren’t open to listening and tried to convert him to their beliefs. He said he loves discussing politics and listening to new viewpoints, but takes his family’s ideas and voting habits more personally.

“Since I’m LGBT and my family is staunchly Republican, it makes me feel uneasy that they vote blindly for Republicans just because they’ve always grown up that way and that’s how their family taught them,” Deen said. “I plan on defending my beliefs and enjoying my Thanksgiving. But usually my family knows where I stand because of my LGBT background and they won’t question it. But, if it does get brought up, I will try to make them understand from my side and hopefully I won’t lose any family members over it, which I’m not scared to if it does happen.”

Mike Morgan, a senior majoring in English literature, said he isn’t worried about a political conversation starting because his family doesn’t usually discuss politics.

“However, my grandfather on my dad’s side is a very conservative individual who I wouldn’t care to discuss politics with,” Morgan, 24, said. “Earlier in the year we got into a heated debate regarding socialism and Donald Trump, and it ended with him basically degrading every opinion I had.”

Morgan said if politics is brought up, he plans to politely remove himself from the conversation.

Numerous articles giving tips on how to handle political discourse at the dinner table, including the Washington Post, BuzzFeed and CNN.

The Post recommends preparing yourself to listen and allow all members of the family to have a voice.

“Remember: Listening to understand why people think the way they do doesn’t mean you are agreeing. Focus on asking probing questions when people say things with which you disagree. You will learn more, and perhaps prod them to reflect in a way they hadn’t before,” Lauren Dockett wrote.

Biomedical sciences senior Tasneem Dia Islam agrees with this sentiment of keeping and encouraging an open mind.

“I intend to speak my mind and have my opinions on the table, and also listen to other views for insight,” she said. “I always have my paradigm changed even a little when I hear arguments for and against an issue.”

Islam, 21, said she was raised to expect political discussion during family events, and that her family always manages to find common ground during debates.

“The next day it’s all water under the bridge,” she said.