The UW Outliers Political Association: Positive Friction

By Amy Rose Gofton

The UW Outliers Political Association started out as a joke between friends. Keenan Courtez and Caleb Coté, both in second year, asked themselves what a political club with no political ideology would look like. The joke quickly turned into a question. We asked ourselves, “what if it did have a mandate?” Courtez said. Courtez and Coté pitched the idea to Meaghan Mechler, a friend and an Environment student. She’s the “CEO type figure” Courtez said. Caleb is the “documenter,” and “[Courtez is] more ideas and direction.”

Courtez recalls seeing the booths at Clubs Day and realizing how much “the political spectrum on campus is compartmentalized.” It’s “un-engaging”, he says. That’s when Courtez and Coté began to visualize a club that actively promoted political friction, rather than suppressed it. We want friction. We want people that have different ideas,” Courtez said, describing the ideal outcome of the club as a “Petri dish of people.” It’s about “how you think, not what you think.” The more they talked about the group, the more they realized an opening for it existed. “As we talked about it in the off campus community, people started to say, hey we don’t have that,” Courtez said.

In the Fall term, they called themselves The UW Outliers Political Association, applied for club status and were granted it, with their first meeting being in November. The group hopes to gain new members and lay the groundwork for club activities in the Winter term. The Outliers see themselves as “member centric,” and as an “enclosed conversation club.” Although the Outliers have no concrete plans yet for club activities, Courtez hinted that a few unique ideas had been thrown around at the planning meeting. Success for the club, Courtez says, will mean seeing new members—students he’s never met before—in executive positions.

The club’s constitution says that the purpose of the club is “to gather UW students, staff and faculty to further the discussion of alternative political thought. We plan to hold meetings, educational seminars, social outings, and other club events.” Although not geared towards making change, the UW Outliers Political Association is a unique project, designed to encourage the UW community to consider, express and argue their political opinions.

Readers can find the UW Outliers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/580273972080781/

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