1. not biased or partisan, especially toward any particular political group. (Merriam-Webster)
This election season, a main source of political engagement on campus stemmed from Dub C Votes, a non-partisan student run initiative through the Office of Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs, Department of Political Science and Campus Election Engagement Project. Their mission was to utilize the momentum surrounding the 2016 election to empower students to make informed decisions come Election Day. The core of their efforts centered on instilling a sense of voter identity in students, a civic duty that will remain with them for election cycles yet to come.
plural noun: donuts
a small fried cake of sweetened dough, typically in the shape of a ball or ring. (Merriam-Webster)
On Wednesday, Oct. 26, Dub C Votes hosted a major voter education push across North and South Campus called “Donut Forget to Vote.” Volunteers hosted tables throughout the day, distributing non-partisan election resources, pins displaying the title and donut holes. They engaged with over 200 students, passing out materials, looking up polling locations and sharing pumpkin spice Munchkins. Through a common love for donuts, students were able to become more informed and prepared for the voting process.
While most materials were designed to reach voters at large, one part of the event focused on each student within an individual framework. On each table were “Dub C Votes” cards, where students were encouraged to write why they vote. The card allows them to take a step back and reflect on why they have chosen to participate in the political process.
Hundreds of cards were filled out during the semester, all of which establish a collective celebration of our civic engagement as young adults. Murals were made out of the red, white and blue cards and hung across campus on Election Day. These are a small and powerful example of steps taken on campus to establish voter identity in students. When students feel empowered by their ability to vote, they are more likely to take ownership over their right to make their voice heard.
Dub C Votes targets three main aspects of the election process: voter registration, voter education and voter identity. The last remains most vital to establishing voter continuity among younger generations.
In his TED Talk, leadership expert Simon Sinek discusses the Golden Circle model for inspirational leadership. Three circles depict the range of effectiveness within leadership practices: the “what” of a project, the “how” and the most effective “why.” When taken into the context of on-campus voter engagement, voter registration lends itself as the “what.”
Registering to vote is the action students take to enable themselves access to the polling stations. It remains a strong step in the right direction; however, students needed more motivation to show up to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Educating students on their polling location, their rights as a voter and providing resources on candidates serves as the “how.” This prepares students for Election Day, resulting in a higher turnout of first-time voters, as they feel comfortable entering the process on their own.
Dialogues of voter identity and the importance of voting lead to the “why.” When students understand why they’re making the effort to vote, their vote then gains personal legitimacy. After walking away from the ballot, first-time voters can take pride in making their voice heard and participating in democracy.
All of these aspects hold importance in empowering students to vote; the center of the Golden Circle empowers a generation of lifelong voters. Students with a strong voter identity are committed to their role in shaping the future and engaging others along the way.
The hope is that on Election Day, your vote was cast with purpose. Celebrate your fulfilled civic duty. Talk about why voting matters with your friends and gain different perspectives on your shared experiences. If it was your first time at the polls, congratulations. It’s the first time for many.
Ellie Sullum is a first-year student majoring in philosophy. She can be reached at ES874307@wcupa.edu.