Given the ugliness of our political dialogue these days, this is an encouraging sign.

The Center for Political Participation and the Civic Engagement Council at Allegheny College have invited approximately 300 colleges and universities to participate in the National Conference of College Democrat and Republican Leaders May 18-19. The purpose of the event is to enhance communication between young Democrats and Republicans, examine civility in politics and establish a high bar for the respectful exchange of ideas.


The Allegheny conference will offer sessions on moderation, compromise and problem solving. Student leaders will participate in mock debates, discuss policy advocacy, and critique relevant films. Participants will confront contentious, often polarizing, topics in a workshop setting, while being encouraged to be mindful of opportunities to discover common ground.


Several colleges are planning to send students to the National Conference of College Democrat and Republican Leaders, including Harvard University, Louisiana State University, Thiel College, the University of Florida and the University of Southern California.

I am pleased that we’re seeing this kind of discussion among young progressives and conservatives in the college ranks. This will hopefully set the tone for a new generation of political operatives/citizens so that we can focus on problem-solving as opposed to name-calling. I am also eager to see how this conference impacts the strength and bipartisan nature of on-campus events this fall.

While an organizer tells me there is currently little more to offer in the way of information than what is already included in the press release, I do know that there is no registration fee and that the college’s Center for Political Participation will be making accommodations for attendees.

Full disclosure: Allegheny happens to be my alma mater. Go Gators!