NDVotes renews partnerships, plans for post-election programming
Megan Valley | Thursday, February 16, 2017
NDVotes will carry on its partnerships with the Center for Social Concerns (CSC) and the Rooney Center and to continue pushing for the student body to participate in “civic engagement.”
Post-election season, sophomore Kylie Ruscheinski and junior Andrew Pott, co-chairs of NDVotes, said the renewal marks a new start for NDVotes.
“There’s a sort of rebranding of NDVotes,” Ruscheinski said. “A lot of people seemed to appreciate the void that was filled on campus for civil engagement and staying informed about the election, but civic engagement doesn’t necessarily stop after the election season, so finding a way to provide that platform and a space for students to be engaged in politics in the off season is important. We’re still going to do voter registration, but next steps also, like how do you stay involved in local politics.”
While NDVotes will have a slightly different focus, Ruscheinski said both the Pizza, Pop and Politics events and the dorm liaison program will continue.
This new focus, Ruscheinski said, will be on increasing the “effectiveness of engagement.”
“We used to have voter registration tables, but since there isn’t an election in the next few years, we’re thinking of replacing those tables with civic engagement tables, so basically stuff about how to write letters to your congressmen, who your congressional representatives are,” Pott said.
To kick off the “rebranding,” the next Pizza, Pop and Politics event will center on the effectiveness of protests.
“Our next speaker is about the sociology of protest; is protest the best way to get your voices heard by your leaders? What are the strategies for calling your representative or writing in? Basically, it’s how to stay involved in the process with more than just your vote,” Ruscheinski said.
Future events might be focused on local elections and interpreting the “new media,” including “alternative facts,” “fake news” and “how to get reliable information when everyone has an agenda.”
Pott said ND Votes was valuable because it “fills a void” on campus.
“I can’t think of any other organization that consistently has some sort of really interesting political talk like we do — maybe Bridge[ND] — but College Democrats and College Republicans bring in interesting speakers, but it might just be once a semester,” he said. “ … There’s also no slant to ours, or at least we try for there not to be.”
Part of what makes NDVotes important and valuable is how accessible it is, Ruscheinski said.
“We have professors come and speak, so they’re people you can continue the conversation with and see on campus,” she said. “The present it in a very approachable way for everyone to understand and follow along. Our last event, we filled Geddes Coffee House. It was standing room only. I think that shows people are interested and if you provide the service, they’ll come.”