UVA Initiative Pairs Politically Diverse Students For Lunch Dates

Rob Shimshock | Education Reporter

Students will pair students of different political persuasions for lunch or coffee dates for a University of Virginia student initiative announced Friday.

Converge UVA will match interested students with diverging political views and use guiding questions to attempt to reach a common ground, according to The Cavalier Daily.

“Our Facebook feeds are algorithmically designed to reinforce our own views,” said Jack Wilkins, the UVA student who leads the program’s development, to The Cavalier Daily. “Oftentimes, our friends hold similar views as us so there’s not many avenues to expand beyond that — to challenge your own beliefs.”

Converge UVA’s conversation guider suggests that participants view the interaction as a dialogue instead of a debate and assume that their partner is speaking in good faith.

“It’s a good idea,” said Adam Kimelman, president of the school’s College Republicans. “I’ve done similar things with some of my friends…and it’s definitely a therapeutic way of going about [political conversation].”

“Political party does not define who we are as human beings — our government and our citizens must always work in the pursuit of uplifting one another,” said Brett Curtis, president of UVA’s University Democrats. “Having a conversation, connecting with others over a meal is a great way to start.”

A majority of UVA students polled in September support removing Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee statue. While students split on whether the school should facilitate compulsory white supremacy training, UVA’s student council unanimously endorsed a list of demands including a call for the school to institute a black student quota and install a plaque on a statue of Thomas Jefferson detailing the monument’s history as “an emblem of white supremacy.”

Converge UVA’s fall 2017 iteration will occur in late October and November.

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