Introducing the Women in Politics and Debate Club

Members of the Women in Politics and Debate club.

Members of the Women in Politics and Debate club.

Audrey Lai, Editor in Chief

On Nov. 17, Solon High School (SHS)’s Women in Politics and Debate club conducted their first meeting. The club aims to create an environment where women can openly express opinions on inequality they’ve experienced in debate clubs and discuss a variety of topics related to women’s rights in order to initiate change within SHS’s social climate.

President and founder of the club, Rithika Goli, discussed her participation in SHS’s debate clubs as a catalyst for the club’s creation.

“I do a lot of different debate clubs at Solon, like Speech and Debate and Model UN,” Goli said. “Within Speech and Debate, there is an organization called Beyond Resolved, which I’m a state officer for. But the problem with that is that because it’s only focused on Speech and Debate, none of the other debate clubs like Mock Trial and Model UN have any of these types of clubs that advocate for them to give women a place to speak when their voices are being marginalized in that club. I wanted to create a club that wasn’t associated with a specific other club where women could come in and talk about their own experiences and their own views on things and be heard.”

US history, US government and Facing History and Ourselves teacher Karen Davidoff explains her relationship with Goli and how she came to be the club’s advisor.

“I currently have Rithika in class and she’s pretty passionate about her debate forum,” Davidoff said. “I think she needed an avenue and wanted to create an avenue for women to talk about themselves and their roles and maybe debate on topics that aren’t spoken in other clubs. So when she approached me, I’m passionate about women’s rights, not only in our own nation but globally as well, so getting students a forum to express that, those opinions and their own views, I thought that was important.”

During the first meeting, members started a conversation on women’s issues both globally and in their own communities, with many students sharing their own personal experiences and opinions. Goli expressed interest in continuing this dialogue in future meetings.

“I want to keep the club pretty informal and mostly discussion based because I think that people get a lot more out of it than me talking at them,” Goli said. “So kind of just putting a topic on the board every meeting, and we talk about that, and obviously members can pick them too so it’s not only me.”

Junior Aparna Srikanth, a member of Women in Politics and Debate, spoke on the reasons why she joined the club.

“So I initially came because Rithika, who started the club, is my friend and I had been helping her get things started, but I really enjoyed the discussion that we had at the meeting,” Srikanth said. “I think it’s important that like-minded individuals are able to come together and have productive conversations about sexism and femininity in different sectors of society, because even if it’s just discussion, it’s kind of like the first step to actual action. I definitely will be coming to other meetings.”

Many new clubs in SHS suffer a lack of longevity after officers graduate and new officers fail to replace them. However, Goli believes Women in Politics and Debate will serve Solon students for years to come.

“I see the club growing and having more people, but I don’t think that this is going to be one of those clubs in Solon that someone starts it and it just dies after they leave,” Goli said. “I think that there are a lot of people that care a lot about this topic that it will continue to be here at Solon.”

Davidoff shares Goli’s sentiment and explains different ways the club could expand and prosper in the future.

“I hope that it’s a club that continues after [Rithika] is a junior, and I hope there’s further leadership and interest in this club,” Davidoff said. “Maybe even taking an interest in our own local politics at the city level, at our state level, at our national level, and seeing one of their organizations maybe we can team up with or events we can participate in.”

Goli prompts SHS students to join the Women in Politics and Debate club, citing a number of benefits for both the individual and the school community as a whole.

“I think that it’s pretty important to join it,” Goli said. “You don’t even need to be in this marginalized group at this club is sort of part of. I think that just being educated about the experiences of your fellow peers is pretty important, and also, if you’re one of those people that it affects you get a place to vent about it quote unquote and also propose ideas to make change, so it’s not creating this cycle of frustration for a lot of people and we could do something with it.”

Davidoff shared her view on how the club could benefit a variety of different students, both by creating an environment where they are able to share their experiences or listen to the experiences of others.

“I think [SHS students] should join it just to hear and participate in an area where they can express their views,” Davidoff said. “And even if they don’t want to express, maybe just to listen, to topics that maybe they’re afraid to approach or they want to approach, and just need a platform to or an avenue to say those things. I think it’s coming to an area where you feel safe sharing your views and opinions.”

Women in Politics and Debate meetings take place on Wednesdays from 3-4 p.m. in TR2.