Saint Mary’s OCSE organizes election engagement campaign
The Saint Mary’s Office of Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) is spearheading a nonpartisan election engagement campaign inspired by the 2018 election season.
The election engagement campaign consists of several events both at Saint Mary’s and within the wider tri-campus and South Bend community. The hope is to engage students through educational opportunities to increase self-efficacy in voting. The first of the events is a meeting on Sept. 10, aimed at students interested in becoming involved in the campaign.
“It gives students the opportunity to participate in our democratic system — maybe for the first time — which is pretty amazing,” junior Annie Maguire, the single student worker on the initiative, said. “And it’s a powerful statement, I guess, when you cast your vote for the first time. We want to make sure as many students as possible do this.”
Their biggest event in September will be their Rock the Vote campaign on Sept. 26. Maguire said the event will feature performances by Bellacapella, the Undertones and College President Jan Cervelli’s band.
Maguire said the OCSE has several goals for this campaign, including making voting look less “daunting” to students.
“The goal was to make [voting] as stress-free and accessible to everyone as possible,” she said. “And for the election season this semester it’s really important students are not only engaged, but informed on the different issues that could affect their vote.”
In order to enact their goals, Maguire said the OCSE has resources available for students that need transportation.
“At Saint Mary’s there are posters around the schools that say the dates and times of each event, where they’re located, when and on that is a link where they can sign up,” she said. “You can actually register if you don’t have your own car if you want to go across town for one of these events. The OCSE provides transportation. There is a form you can fill out by visiting the OCSE as well as just emailing them.”
The events are of a wide variety, not built around a singular political group. Rather, the goal is to educate the entire spectrum, Maguire said.
“As far as we know we are trying to get events that could be of interest to people across the whole political spectrum,” she said. “Our goal is to be nonpartisan, host events and [connect] events that are issue-based so people can really educate themselves on issues that could affect their vote in one way or the other.”
Maguire noted the reasons why voting, becoming involved and educating yourself are so important for students in this election cycle.
“It important all of our voices get heard,” she said. “We are a new generation of voters and our voices matter so much in the political sphere nowadays. Voting for the first time is the exercising of that power of our representation on a national level, which I think needs to be recognized more highly.”
Getting students to the polls is necessary for representation to be acknowledged, Maguire said.
“Trying to increase our representation in the voting polls is so important because we need diverse voices, we need women, we need people who are underrepresented groups in order to have outcomes we are satisfied with,” Maguire said.
The election engagement campaign speaks to the significance of each voting-age individual participating in the political process, Maguire said.
“As students at Saint Mary’s but also as young people living in the United States, I think a lot of the time people underestimate the power of constituents,” she said. “But the reality is that our voices really do have an impact on our legislators, on the people who are representing us in Congress and even on a global scale … Emphasizing that point as much as we can and encouraging people to participate in this process is so essential in keeping this process going and running smoothly.”