Independent thinkers and avid debaters now have a place to discuss their beliefs, thanks to the new American Individualists club.
The club, founded in February, is a new chapter of the American Individualists, which President sophomore Quinn Reichard founded during high school in his home state of Virginia. At Hillsdale, Reichard saw a similar need for open political discourse on campus, which prompted him to start the second chapter.
“The idea was to provide a forum in which people feel completely free to question anything and everything,” Reichard said. “In spite of the rhetoric, we often hear on campus about how everyone is free to question ideas, it often plays out to not be 100 percent true.”
The group meets Tuesdays from 8 – 9 p.m. in Lane 336. At the beginning of each meeting, someone — usually Reichard — proposes a question, and then discussion flows from there.
“The discussions are very organic,” Vice President sophomore Alexos Berti said. “They’re not planned. What we’re discussing toward the end is very different from what we’re discussing at the beginning, which is OK, because we try to get as deep as we can. That can lead you to interesting places.”
Previous discussion questions address subjective morality, government involvement in roads, and if the U.S. should invade Mexico.
“At first it sounds ridiculous, but there’s a lot of different things that go into that,” Berti said. “There’s social views, religious views, politics, economics. It becomes far more an intelligent discussion than it originally sounds. It ends up being incredibly controversial.”
But, ultimately, Reichard said he hopes students will use American Individualists to contemplate important questions, a fundamental part of the college experience.
“It’s good to have a place where it’s not at all unexpected to question the very existence of God with glee,” he said. “There’s a sort of rebellious attitude to the club that I think is vital to its success.”
The club has no official platform, and Berti describes it as a “good supplement” for the campus organizations that do.
“I think the only way beliefs can be cemented is when there is a discussion forum that is completely platformless, that is completely agenda-free,” Reichard added. “It’s not about promoting ideals. It’s a sandbox for ideas.”