Have dinner and an informal discussion with the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Listen to the president of the Sierra Club speak on how fossil fuels relate to national security.
Ask two debaters questions while the Discovery Channel tapes it for an upcoming television special.
What do all of these activities have in common?
They’re just a few of the things that members of the Yale Political Union did this past year. Since 1934, the YPU has been the most prominent forum for campus politics in America. Modeled on the Cambridge and Oxford Unions, the YPU is the only organization of its kind in the United States.
If you want to listen to famous speakers on topics ranging from domestic environmental policy to international terrorism and from science to religion, you can find them here. Every year, the top political and social leaders in the country and across the political spectrum visit the YPU to meet and debate with the most dynamic students on campus.
The YPU has hosted nearly every president since Eisenhower. Recent guests have included National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston, Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt, talk-show host Jerry Springer, former Central Intelligence Agency and FBI Director William Webster, and presidential candidates Ralph Nader, Steve Forbes, Bill Bradley and Alan Keyes.
If stimulating debate is your passion, then some of the keenest minds at Yale will challenge you on the YPU’s floor. The YPU has addressed relevant and controversial topics such as “Federal Hate Crimes Legislation is Justified,” “The American Welfare System Perpetuates Economic Inequality” and “The Left Has Become the Enemy of Liberalism.”
The YPU is an umbrella organization for six different political parties, each with its own unique culture and activities: the Liberal Party, the Progressive Party, the Independent Party, the Conservative Party, the Tory Party, and the Party of the Right. Each week the parties come together for a meeting to participate in a lively exchange of ideas. Through these discussions, we refine our views by discussing and debating issues from the rich diversity of perspectives found in our membership.
You’ll find that the YPU is not simply a debating organization or a speaker’s forum. It’s also a place where deep friendships are forged. It’s a tremendous educational experience that nicely complements the material you learn in class. And it’s a place where many of America’s future leaders are made.
Senator John Kerry; William F. Buckley, founder of the National Review; New York Gov. George Pataki; and Peter Beinart, editor of the New Republic, are just a few of the YPU alumni who have left their mark on the world. Perhaps you too will one day be a great leader and look back on the YPU as one of the formative experiences of a remarkable career.
Regardless of your views and interests, there is a place for you in the YPU. Stop by one of our meetings and see what we’re all about.
Steven Prohaska was the Yale Political Union President during spring 2002.