Network of Enlightened Women provides safe space for conservative women

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Due to the tense political climate of America, students on campus often feel that their political views are under attack and more and more people are now turning to like-minded groups to share their opinions. For conservative women on the DePauw campus, that place is the Network of Enlightened Women (NeW).

NeW is a national organization that was approved on campus at the end of the 2017 spring semester. It focuses on “empowering a new generation of conservative women to take back our campuses,” according to the NeW website.

The club was originally brought to campus at the end of last year by 2017 DePauw graduate Kit Clark, who named junior Carli Maddock president for the new year.

Maddock handles networking for the group and finds guests of all different political backgrounds to speak with them.

“We really want to have diverse viewpoints in our discussions because [NeW] is meant to expand horizons; it’s not meant to be a confirmation bias,” Maddock said. “It’s meant to start a dialogue that I don’t really think is occurring, not only on this campus, but in America in general.”

The group’s motivation to start a chapter of NeW on the DePauw campus evolved from feeling a lack of acceptance in other spaces. Some conservative women found it difficult to voice their political opinions in class and wanted a place to share their views.

NeW marketing chair, junior Claire Emmick, is one of these women. “I feel like every class I’ve had here that has discussed politics has been very liberal, so I just don’t really share my opinions in class,” Emmick said. “It’s really important to have that safe space to talk about [politics] because college campuses can make it hard, and you just never know when you’re being judged.”

The meetings will be a place for students to open up about political topics after reading articles Maddock or guests choose. NeW’s first meeting will most likely cover health care, Maddock said.

While the club focuses on conservative women, anyone can join. “We have no closed doors whatsoever, and we just really want to have a diverse group so that we can have as much of a widespread conversation as possible,” Maddock said. “We really want to hear from people who might not feel like they’re normally under the title that we focus on.”

The leaders of NeW are going to strive to make meetings feel as laid-back as possible and hope to give them a “coffee-house break” feel, Maddock said. The club’s first meeting is on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in Julian. The club’s leaders hope to make the members and guest speakers feel comfortable sharing their political opinions in front of others.

Sophomore Katherine Marwede, NeW’s secretary, is grateful for the chance that the club provides to discuss her political views without fear of judgment. “Hiding who you are and what you believe in isn’t something you should have to do,” Marwede said. “So I’m really glad [NeW] is now a part of campus.”