Written by Taylor DiFilippo |
The members of the Political Club had an interesting event on September 7, where they got their first ever complaint from a guest. The Political Club has been holding events, debates, and forums since 2005, making the new development even more shocking. The event in question was a primary forum. “We chose to have the primary candidates who were primarying each other,” said Sophomore Sarah Auletta. The primary candidates at the forum were Democrats Christine Goupil and Lynn Pinder. Both were running for first selectman.
The candidates were each given a list of questions to answer. None of the candidates were allowed to see the questions beforehand. According to English teacher and Political Club advisor Eric Bergman, a problem arose when Kristine Goupil came off as more prepared for the questions than Lynn Pinder. The Political Club was accused of slipping the better-prepared candidate the questions. Mr. Bergman said that the supporters of candidate Pinder thought “the questions had been given well in advance, and then one of the candidates came across as prepared, very very prepared.” Mr Bergman said, ” the other candidate may have thought that it was just going to be off the cuff type of responses. So they turned it back on us, claiming that we had, perhaps, slipped the questions to one of the candidates.”
The complaints accused the club of not just giving the questions beforehand, but also of being politically biased and unfair. The Political Club members said they would never give the questions early or do anything else that might give one candidate an advantage over the other. The act would “violate everything that we do,” according to Mr. Bergman. “And we took [the complaint] as a personal affront to what we– as people and as educators and students — stand for, so we had to defend ourselves in essence on some of these social media sites,” and “It put me in a very difficult spot because I had to defend the integrity of my students,” said Mr. Bergman.
The Political Club, however, did not let the new complaints get them down. In fact, the club has grown from the experience. “And because of this whole situation, we are coming up with a protocol for future forums and debates,” said Sarah.
There’s a first for everything, and the Political Club dealt with a rather unexpected first. Now that it’s over, the Political Club has lived, learned, and taken steps to prevent this type of thing from happening again in the future.
The Political Club has an upcoming forum on October 24, 6:00-8:00. Check it out if you’re interested.
Democratic candidate Cristine Goupil is running against Kirk Carr for first selectman. The election is Tuesday, November 7, 2017.