On the heels of the first presidential debate last week, and in anticipation of the November election, the newest members of the student-led Gray Party have planned a series of events and updates this fall, including an ongoing voter registration drive on campus.
A bipartisan organization, the Gray Party was established several years ago by Anthony Cochrane ’18, a Republican, and Mark Choi ’18, a Democrat, with the goal of encouraging civil discourse and increasing civic engagement. Each year, new student leaders have emerged to carry on their work.
“The Gray Party pushes students to be well-informed, caring citizens, and this year being an election year, we are aiding in signing up students in absentee and regular ballots to vote,” said Head Prefect Josh Novick ’21, who is in his second year as co-leader of the organization. “This year we hope to accomplish a safe environment where you can voice your opinions and learn from others, venture outside of your comfort zone, listen and discuss common issues amongst your peers and community. We are trying our best to examine, educate, and discuss the issues despite such confusing times.”
On October 1, Gray Party members, including Novick, Jack Landers ’21, Lauren Stark ’21, Kaylee Alexson ’21, Serdar Kaltalioglu ’22, Declan Long ’21, Jack Gleason ’21, Ksenia Korobov ’21, Quentin Sheers ’22, Graham Ince ’23, Hunter Fonseca ’23, and Luke Martin ’23, with support from Ally Gerry ’21, presented an introduction to the 2020 election at School Meeting. The students discussed the platforms of both political parties, the electoral college, battleground states, mail-in voting, and local elections.
On October 24, the Gray Party will host a Town Hall forum with members of the Washington Board of Selectmen, who will discuss the town’s response to both COVID-19 and Tropical Storm Isaias. The event, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center, is open to students and faculty only.
The intent of the forum is to help students understand the impact they can have in their own communities, “in the hope that they will strive to be active citizens as they mature and find their places in the world,” said Bart McMann, Director of the Center for Citizenship and Just Democracy.
On November 3, the Gray Party will hold a mock election on campus, and then students who are registered to vote will be invited to walk to town with faculty to cast their actual ballots. In mid-November, the Gray Party will host a Braver Angels debate on free speech and cancel culture. The format will be similar to the forum on immigration policy the Gray Party organized at the Gunn Memorial Library in January.
“We live in a nation with an extremely polarized political climate and that polarization extends into daily life as well, so it’s important that we look past party affiliations,” Korobov said. “With the Gray Party, we can have discussions where we aim to truly understand the different sides of issues, instead of basing opinions off of partisan stereotypes and assumptions, and this will go a long way in easing the effects of polarization and benefit us all.”