When they were given an assignment to launch a social media campaign in class, three Dickinson College students found inspiration in incivility.
Cammie Charron, Rowan Humphries and Carmen Canino created A House United: Rebuilding Respect, which seeks to rebuild respect and create civil discourse around political issues in the United States.
The name of the group is taken from Abraham Lincoln’s June 1858 speech in which he said “a house divided against itself cannot stand” in regard to the growing national conflict over slavery.
The mission statement for the group contends that American democracy is in crisis as identity politics becomes more dominant, and political discourse is characterized by a lack of respect.
The students have held “Let’s Talk” forums that allow for respectful discussion. The next forum, which is open to the public, will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday in Althouse Hall, room 109 on the Dickinson College campus.
Q. What prompted you to create a movement addressing political discourse?
A. We have all personally experienced the negative repercussions of radical polarization in our country. Even as young as 9 years old, Cammie, our community outreach coordinator, vividly recalls avoiding political discussions after being verbally attacked by her fellow classmates. Her childhood fears were realized during the 2016 presidential election when political parties attacked each other out of spite for the other party.
Q. What has your group been doing so far to promote your cause?
A. We’ve created forums for respectful political discourse, called “Let’s Talk” sessions. We additionally built a Facebook page, which seeks to inform the public of our movement, provide individuals with a way to stay up-to-date about current events in a balanced manner and facilitate a safe space for respectful political conversation.
Q. How have your initiatives been received on campus?
A. Our movement’s launch event on Oct. 30 was a huge success. We found that many of our peers felt as strongly as we did about the declining state of our democracy. Over 30 of them formally signed our pledge to REBEL against incivility (Respect, Educate, Be inclusive, Engage, Listen), and shared their thoughts on the meaning of democracy with us. Several other organizations on campus expressed interest in partnering with our organization, which will create exciting opportunities to coordinate with different groups on campus.
Q. What is your vision for the future of the movement?
A. We’d really like to see our movement develop into a permanent organization at Dickinson, whether this is in the form of a political club that is unaffiliated with either political party, or as a permanent organization called A House United. We’d also like to spread our movement to other college campuses by creating a guidebook that other schools can use.
Q. How can the Carlisle community become involved in A House United?
A. We would love for members of the Carlisle community to attend our Let’s Talk events. Community members can also take our pledge to REBEL against incivility, as well as keep up with our Facebook page by liking the page and joining the conversation online.