Aaliyah McLean - James Madison University
Ethan Gardner - James Madison University
Democracy works best when all perspectives are included, but college students face unique barriers to participating in civic life. This panel will present how the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement and Dukes Vote are building the capacity of students as they lead 2020 Census and voter engagement initiatives. Presenters will discuss how students developed and implemented a campus civic engagement plan and what they’ve learned as best practices and strategies for achieving full participation even in a time of global crisis.
Nonpartisan campus-wide student-led civic engagement initiatives are central components to lifelong participation in democratic self-governance. The presentation will consist of a panel of JMU students that have first-hand experience building and implementing a campus civic engagement action plan.
Participants will be introduced to best practices for conducting census outreach (deadline for response extended to October 31, 2020), and voter education and mobilization, and developing and advocating contingencies during a time of global crisis that prevents in-person social interactions. Strategies discussed will include social media outreach, the importance of building inclusive and diverse partnerships across campus, and creating virtual educational experiences that meet students where they are. The panel will also discuss how to use National Study of Learning, Voter, and Engagement (NSLVE) data and Census response mapping tools to target specific demographics to increase engagement and participation. The panel will also discuss the importance and methods of conducting multilingual, multimedia outreach across a variety of platforms to increase education and participation on campus, as well as in the communities in which campuses are situated. We will also discuss the importance of preparing for different contingencies for Fall 2020, depending on the state of the global pandemic and whether there will be opportunities for in-person interactions.
Participants will develop a better understanding of challenges and barriers students face and effective solutions to these issues. Challenges include: garnering attention in an attention deficit economy; difficulties in organizing and efficacy; navigating a hyperpartisan political environment; technical barriers (e.g. identification requirements, state voting laws, and interacting with state election officials); and combating voter suppression efforts. Participants will have the opportunity to share their ideas and experiences with civic engagement efforts and engage in discussion. Participants will leave with a framework for developing a campus civic engagement plan, and be provided with a toolkit of resources.