Editors of Loomis Chaffee’s student newspaper, The Log, interviewed S.E. Cupp, a conservative political writer, commentator, and CNN host, for a video convocation geared toward freshmen and sophomores that was discussed among students in advisory groups on Thursday, October 22.
Ms. Cupp discussed politics, the upcoming election, intellectual diversity, and her formative and professional experiences in response to the editors’ questions. Both Ms. Cupp and the editors said they hoped the question-and-answer session would encourage students to voice their opinions in thoughtful and intentional ways and engage in civil political dialogue this year and beyond.
During the 30-minute conversation, eight Log editors posed questions to Ms. Cupp, the host of CNN’s S.E. Cupp Unfiltered. Interviewers included seniors Victoria Che and Stephanie Zhang, co-editors-in-chief of The Log, as well as editorial staff members seniors Harry Knight, Lily Potter, Minjune Song, and Kelly Xue; and juniors Mercy Olagunju and Ryan Fortani.
Their queries included: When and how did you come to identify as conservative, and what was it like to be among the ideological minority at Cornell University? What can schools do to create an inclusive atmosphere for conservative-leaning individuals on campus? How do you feel about the Republican party under President Trump’s leadership? What has been your experience interacting with the public — especially social media — as a journalist and conservative political commentator? What can students do to be informed?” And what’s next after the election in November?
Ms. Cupp responded thoughtfully to the students’ questions.
Noting the difficulty in maintaining relationships between people who hold opposing fundamental ideals, a challenge with which she contends personally and professionally, Ms. Cupp suggested focusing on common interests — such as activism and civil engagement — and coming together for discussion from each person’s individual perspective. Also important, she said, is to engage in the conversation with the intention of gaining a better understanding of the other person’s perspective. Too often, she said, “we want to identify heretics instead of looking for converts.”
In political dialogues between people whose opinions differ, Ms. Cupp explained, intent matters in determining whether the discussion will be productive. There need to be two willing participants in the interaction who share the goal of learning and understanding. One should not seek to agitate, and the goal shouldn’t be to win.
Ms. Cupp said that a school community like Loomis Chaffee is a great place for ideas to be challenged in a productive and respectful way, and she added that it is incumbent on the ideological majority to create those opportunities so that everyone is heard and respected.
The ill effects of polarization and tribalism in society are the result of politics replacing the central organizing values in our lives — community, faith, family, and work, Ms. Cupp said. What concerns her is that a person’s politics, which used to be just about governing, has become a comprehensive identifying value — determining where we live, who our friends are, who we trust, how we get our news, and what we think about science, among other things, she said.
According to Ms. Cupp, if we really want to address the problem of polarization, it is not enough to foster understanding and agreement from each side. Politics have to become less all-encompassing, she said, asking, “When did [politics] become the central focus of our lives? … and how do we get it back to its rightful position?”
For more information about Ms. Cupp’s political commentary, background, writing, and broadcast career, connect to her professional website.
Connect to the online version of Loomis Chaffee's student newspaper, The Log.
One of several convocations addressing issues of democracy and citizenship this election season, Ms. Cupp’s visit was part of the Hubbard Speakers Series, made possible by a gift from Robert P. Hubbard ’47.