BridgeMNSU, UC Berkeley foster discourse on gun control

Joshua Schuetz
Staff Writer

It’s one of the most argued over topics in America. Elected leaders have lost seats over the issue. It has fueled anger, resentment, and frustration among Americans. What issue is this? Gun control. It’s difficult to imagine an issue on which the country is more split down the middle, or a subject more controversial. 

On Tuesday, BridgeMNSU, a Registered Student Organization on campus, hosted an evening event concerning the issue. It was part of a study done by the organization alongside the University of California, Berkeley. 

“We collaborated with the UC Berkeley, with what we call the Mind and Person Perception Lab.” Andrew Weinzierl, who works with BridgeMNSU, said. “We conducted the study, based on how people interacted typing on Skype versus how they interacted when talking in person.”

The Mind and Person Perception Lab, or MAPP, which has published over fifteen scholarly articles since 2013, is part of a project by the UC Berkeley. It is primarily concerned with psychology, but it delves into the political as well, since political psychology is a subdiscipline of both psychology and political science.

Half of the participants spoke in person, while half typed on Skype. Participants were rotated after completing their conversation with their assigned partner, so that they could converse with another. As participants in a study, they received debriefing information after the event was completed. 

BridgeMNSU is the Minnesota State University, Mankato chapter of BridgeUSA, an organization which seeks to foster responsible discourse on controversial topics and encourage ideological diversity.

They’re just in time, too. Many Americans, largely thanks to social media and geography, live in political “bubbles”, wherein they encounter few people with views that challenge their own.

The idea behind BridgeUSA (and its MNSU chapter) is to free people from these political bubbles by exposing them to ideological diversity. That exposure, to people who may not necessarily think the same way as oneself, is an important part of intellectual development.

Their website describes this diversity like so: “Viewpoint diversity refers to the state of a community or group in which members approach questions or problems from multiple perspectives.” 

The RSO is partnered with other organizations equally committed to the expansion of intellectual political discourse. Among those organizations are Heterodox Academy, which also seeks to break down ideological barriers, and Allsides, an organization which provides news articles from a variety of sources across the political spectrum, labelling them according to ideological position. 

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