MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich.—The Civil Discourse Society meets every Tuesday evening at 7p.m. Started last year by a few undergraduates at Central Michigan University who just wanted a place on campus for open, respectful conversations about politics, the club feels more relevant than ever. And each week, a few more students trickle through the door.
“We need to make it more of a point to get people to talk,” said Jackie Smith, the organization’s president. Students at the college, which is located in the center of the state as the name implies, say they also feel stuck in the middle of a contentious political climate where no one wants to listen to anyone else. Students are pretty evenly split, politically. And in 2016, Isabella County, where the school is located, went for now-President Donald Trump after going for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. That’s made for some tense interactions.