Students stay informed, active after election

Originally published November 18, 2012 in The Commonwealth Times

Liz Butterfield
Assistant News Editor

Janeal Downs
Contributing Writer

The election may be over, but groups are still working hard to engage and inform students around campus in the political process.

VCU’s political science program hosted a post-election forum on Nov. 15 to discuss issues that will be important now that President Barack Obama has been re-elected and what students should look for over the next few years.

Professors Herbert Hirsch, Deirdre Condit, Christopher Saladino and John Aughenbaugh addressed a full theater of students.

Topics ranged from the role of women in the election and campaign controversy to U.S. foreign policy going forward and the potential role of the federal courts going forward on public policy. The professors pulled laughter from the audience of students, with jokes and sarcasm rolled into the serious discussion.

Political science senior Amanda Mendoza-Hawkins said she enjoyed the panel discussion and said the professors’ take on the election was refreshingly realistic.

“It’s nice to get a fresh taste (of information) and have something other than spin words,” she said. Hawkins is trying to stay engaged in politics even though the presidential election is over. She said she is looking forward to the election and campaigns for the Virginia governorship next year.

VCU clubs and student groups around campus are also working to keep students engaged, including the Young Democrats at VCU.

As vice president of communication of the Young Democrats, senior political science major Matt Rogers said that they are still working to actively involve and inform students even after the election. The club hosts film showings and guest lectures almost every week as a way to keep students active in the club.

“It’s one of the better ways for us to get people out,” Rogers said. The club worked during the election to register voters and keep them educated on campaign issues, but is still working to inform students now that the election has been decided.

“We really want to make sure people are still aware that things are going on,” Rogers  said. “What I’m focusing on is making sure students are still informed and don’t stop caring about politics.”

Graphic design group Young Richmond formed before this year’s election as part of a service-learning class assignment to involve the community on local politics through design. The class had to find an idea that would better the community through design work, said member Isabel Rich. Rich said the group decided to produce a small weekly magazine that focused on educating 18- to 29-year-olds on relevant issues and how they can become involved in the community. She said the purpose of the publications was to move away from the negative connotations some young voters connect with politics.

“We are (now) encouraging them to learn about what issues are happening locally, who are behind these issues, who can fix the issues and what we can do to help,” Rich said. Young Richmond is hosting a Political Carnival on Nov. 30 at 1509 W. Main Street with free food, political themed games and guest speakers as a way to inform students about local offices and issues


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