UCF students feel the effects of political divides photo

Matthew Lago, director of outreach for College Democrats at UCF speaks out against Ben Shapiro during an event held at Key West ballroom in the Student Union. Lago, like other students, felt tension created among his family and friends because of the current political climate. 

Opposing political views have led some UCF students to end their friendships and stop talking to family members about politics.

“It’s made me the black sheep of my family,” said Matthew Lago, the outreach director of College Democrats at UCF. 

Political tension among family and friends has become a common occurrence. In the wake of the 2020 Presidential Election, UCF students of both parties spoke about how they handled "agreeing to disagree" on partisan debates or, in some cases have lost connections due to these ideological clashes.

Some UCF students said they feel more tension from family and close friends because of this year’s political climate. 

“I’ve felt far more disconnect from my heritage. I feel less Cuban American, which, if it’s their intention or not, is the result of being treated disrespectfully for simply disagreeing on tax policy,” Lago said. 

Lago said he grew up accepting everything his family said as facts. However since developing his own beliefs as a Democrat and becoming critical of Cuban-American politicians like Sen. Marco Rubio, his family has not been as accepting of him. 

“The tensions were high, however it was a pressure cooker cranking up," Lago said. "It hadn’t blown up, but there was an undercurrent of aggressiveness and agitation.” 

He began creating his own political path following the Parkland massacre in his school district. 

“I was intrigued by the response from the Republican Party, while also simply beginning to disagree with economic theories from conservative leaders,” Lago said. 

The constant questioning from relatives about his beliefs and culture made him feel less Cuban since it seemed impossible to separate ideology from culture, he said.

Tyler Gibbs, senior industrial engineering major, shared his experience as a Republican.

“I had disagreements with those who strongly oppose my support of President Trump and have called me racist solely based on me supporting him, even though I have a multicultural background being half Filipino and half white,” Gibbs said. 

Being Filipino, Gibbs said he has a hard time understanding why his support toward Trump would automatically lead someone to believe he is racist. Gibbs said his family shares his political views, but he has had tension with friends with opposing viewpoints. 

“I don’t defriend a person or ignore them due to their opposing views, but friends have done that to me and have unfollowed me or deleted me as their friend on social media,” he said. “It’s just shocking to see that your political view is who you are as a person altogether."

Democrat Andrea Del Toro, junior early childhood education major, said her household erupts in debate anytime politics are brought up.

“Being a 20-year-old American Hispanic who is politically aware of what is going on has led me to lose friends and have arguments with my father,” Del Toro said. 

Del Toro said there is a connection between being Puerto Rican and the presidential decision that the United States makes.

“They deserve a president who is going to do what’s best for them – not throw paper towels at them after they just got hit by a deadly hurricane," she said.

Del Toro said people have told her to go back to where she came from, despite knowing she was born in Florida and has lived here her whole life. 

Del Toro and her father have agreed to just not talk about politics with each other. 

Lago said growing up with parents on opposite sides of the political spectrum taught him to be understanding. 

"It's been years of disagreements, so I've come to terms with it," Lago said.

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