by Jeffrey Mu ’24

With signups complete for club day, clubs from all over Bellarmine are starting up and running again, adding new members to satisfy a wide range of interests. Ranging from casual to intensive, Bellarmine’s wide diversity of clubs can prove to be an advantage and a disadvantage. With the large amounts of clubs, it can be hard to decide which ones to join and pursue. This week, we interviewed members and leaders of the Bellarmine Political Review to give some insight into how the club functions, where it takes place, and what to expect.

Left: BLM Protesters

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Avi Lekkelapudi ‘25 – Club Member

Q. How long have you been part of the BPR?

A. Since last year, which was the start of my freshman year.

Q. How did you hear about the club?

A. During club day I just happened to come across it, and last year they gave out donuts for free at each of the meetings so I signed up. I started to like it later for more than just the donuts.

Q. What are some fun moments in the club that you experienced over your time?

A. The biggest thing is that Ryan Alappatt ’22 made it a very fun environment where the presentations, while usually covering serious topics have some hardiness to them to make them fun. That’s just generally though, I can’t really think of any particular example.

Q. Do you enjoy the club covering regional, national, or international topics?

A. I prefer when they cover international topics. They cover and alternate between the three each week, (at least they did last year), I like that because I do international extemp, so it’s especially helpful to me.

Q. Is there anything you would like to see in the club going forward?

A. I don’t have any specific ideas that I want to be implemented into the club as a whole, but what would be cool to see is more club members giving presentations because the nice thing about the club is that members can both give presentations and also write articles for the club.

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Tom Vosganian ’24 – Co-President

Q. How long have you been part of the BPR?

A. Since freshman year, which would be 2020.

Q. Why did you choose to join?

A. I chose to join because I’ve always been interested in politics, and I like the idea of having a space at Bell where I can discuss my political views with other people who are just as opinionated.

Q. What do enjoy most about the club?

A. I enjoy the meetings most that happen every other week, especially at the beginning of the year when the attendance numbers are the highest. You really see people invested in the topic and wanting to get their opinions out there so people can consider it and discuss it further. I remember a particular meeting last year about the California recall election where people got really passionate, and it was great to see. Obviously, I didn’t agree with every take on the issue, but it was nice to see how the members of the student body were expressing their views and feeling comfortable doing so.

Q. How do the club meetings and schedule work?

A. We meet every other week on Wednesdays in L-204. We are splitting our schedule with the Irish student union since they will be meeting in the same room. We will meet every other week, and I would say our meetings are fairly consistent. We are looking to have more meetings oriented towards the writing process of our club this year, which is where we write articles on political issues that we feel are important and publish them on our website.

Q. What do you think you would say to newcomers who are interested in joining the club?

A. I would say that it’s not exactly as formal a process as it sounds being called the “Bellarmine Political Review”, it’s really just a place where you can share your opinions and put them down in writing so people can understand your views and take them into consideration. There’s no requirement for the articles to be as formal as a DeLateur essay, we just want them to be coherent expressions of political opinions. I believe a lot of students at Bell have a lot of political opinions worth sharing but get turned off to that idea when they see a formal writing process and not just a way to share their views.

Q. What is the BPR’s goal this year? Do you prefer covering regional, national, or international topics?

A. Usually we do national and state topics, but last year we wanted to work on international topics like events happening in China, Russia, and Latin America. This year we are also hoping to go in a more local direction because we feel that Bellarmine being in San Jose, a fairly important city in California, should motivate the student body to understand what is going on politically and given that the senior class is eligible to vote, I’d say it would be prudent to educate the next generation of voters on those processes. Last year the leaders organized an event with a mayoral candidate, and it was received pretty well by our members. We’re hoping to do things like that again and talk to city council members and mayoral candidates.

Q. What do you think could be improved about the club?

A. I do think that we could put more emphasis on article writing. Like I said, currently it’s not as formal of a process as it sounds, it’s just a way of sharing opinions in writing online. We usually don’t have as many people as we would like writing articles and we would like more people to do so which is why Ben and I are taking the initiative to advertise the process as more casual. We want it to be where people only need to cite their sources on their political position and express themselves in a coherent manner. We hope that that will encourage more people to write their articles because at the end of the day, that’s what this club is all about, students expressing their opinions.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?

A. Swing by L-204 to see if we’re there, and feel free to participate in the discourse even if you’re not an official member. It’s always great to have newcomers sharing opinions!

Ben Gleixner ’23 – Co-President

Q. How long have you been part of the BPR?

A. Since the start of my sophomore year, that would be the 2020-2021 school year.

Q. How did you first hear about the club?

A. Charlie Fox was in charge of the BPR before me, he messaged me before school started asking if I wanted to join, so that’s how I got involved in the club.

Q. What’s your favorite part of the BPR?

A. It’s always fun to have all the articles written out. We have a website where we put all of it up there, and we have about two years of articles published now, plus some other writing stuff we’ve done.

Q. What is the BPR’s goal this year?

A. We are a publication, so we aim to write and publish political reviews from a variety of different aspects. Most of our meetings are in a discussion format, and writing is done in people’s free time.

Q. What level of coverage do you have in the club? Do you prefer regional or national events?

A. It depends, it’s different for every individual because they write their own thing. We’ve switched back and forth between domestic and international politics in the past, just because Ryan Alappatt and Charlie Fox were more interested in that. Currently, I’m guessing we are moving to do more domestic politics based on my and Tom’s interests. We want to make it balanced though.

Q. Are there any highlights you’ve had during your time here at the club and being a leader?

A. We don’t normally have anything too crazy going on, most likely because Dr. Sullivan is there. I did a presentation last year in the first semester and that was really fun with new members, but otherwise not really.

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Dr. Sullivan – Moderator

Q. How long have you been moderating the BPR for?

A. Since it started, which would be around six years.

Q. Why do you moderate the BPR? How did the club get started?

A. So initially the kids who wanted to start the club were kids who I knew because I was teaching them or they were on the speech and debate team. They approached me about it and I liked the idea of kids engaging with political issues or current events. Having a place where they can come and talk about it every week and also write about it creates a really nice environment and publication. Over the years we have created a few hard copy publications but then we wanted everything transitioned to online.

Q. What are the highlights of the club for you?

A. The highlights for me are when they’re having discussions. I try really hard not to say anything one way or the other but there have been times when someone will say something utterly ridiculous or completely wrong and then I do pipe up, but mostly it’s interesting to hear people’s views on different things. Over the years leaders of the club have been doing more presentations before the discussion begins to make sure everyone is informed about the topic. Also, there have been times when those presentations, particularly about obscure topics, presented something that I didn’t quite know, so that’s always interesting.

Q. Along those lines, have students’ political opinions ever surprised you?

A. There will always be kids whose politics I disagree with and that’s neither here nor there. Nothing that I do in this club is about a student’s liking or sharing of my political views. Of course there have been times where kids have said something where it’s like, “oh I always thought he was more conservative,” or “oh I always thought that person was more progressive,” and there are times when that will surprise me.

Q. So for people who aren’t involved in the club, can they just show up and engage in the conversation?

A. Of course! Just come up here during community time on Wednesdays!

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So there you have it folks! If you’re looking for a place where you’re free to express your political opinions on topics you have in mind, then the BPR is a great place to do so! You can also check out their website and articles by visiting the link below. Happy opinionating!

Link: https://thebellarminepoliticalreview.godaddysites.com/