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Club pushes for more civil public political discourse

| Friday, February 12, 2016

As election season progresses, NDVotes ’16 will be hosting a training session aimed at improving public dialogue titled “Voter Mobilization: Training in Civic Reflection” this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as part of its broader goal of initiating conversations on campus about political and civic actions.

Rosie McDowell, faculty advisor for NDVotes ’16, said this student-driven training session aims to give students more opportunities for involvement and to inform them about the voter registration process.

“[The training opportunities] are on issues that were selected by students and what they said was important,” McDowell said. “The idea is to give students opportunities to become involved in civic and political issues and to stay active in the causes and issues important to them beyond the election.”

The free training will be facilitated by student leaders and is sponsored by Indiana Campus Compact. The student-to-student leadership training is part of the Civic Reflection Initiative at Valparaiso University.

According to the Center for Civic Reflection, the Civic Reflection Initiative aims to have students “facilitate reflection dialogue about civic action and train other students to facilitate as well.”

“I think dialogue has been important for a long time,” McDowell said. “We’ve been working since 2012 to promote this idea called the virtues of discourse, recognizing that people do have passions but to be an educated person and be an active member of society.”

McDowell said part of having constructive dialogue is to recognize there will always be a multitude of perspectives and experiences brought to the table and to be able to handle those viewpoints in a non-reactionary way.

“The goal of it is to have students have the conversations about issues that are important to them without breaking down and getting all partisan and disparaging,” McDowell said.

According to McDowell, NDVotes ’16 has been meeting since last spring to design this political series. Some of the upcoming events in the spring include a discussion of income inequality as a campaign issue and a faculty panel on immigration.

“The whole goal of NDVotes is to create this non-partisan campaign,” McDowell said. “The point is to understand that people are coming from different points of views and values. I want students to feel like they have the skills and the conversation to have a respectful dialogue and conversation.”

Since the club has been created, McDowell said it has witnessed a huge uptake in the number of students who have registered to vote, especially in the past week when around 500 students registered.

“Attend the events, find out who your NDVotes dorm liaison is, get signed up with TurboVote and don’t shy away from engaging,” McDowell said.

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About Selena Ponio

Selena Ponio is from Dallas, Texas and is currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. She is the Associate News Editor for The Observer. Selena lives in Breen-Phillips hall and is majoring in International Economics with a concentration in Spanish and is minoring in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy.

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