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Monday, May 27
The Indiana Daily Student


GUEST COLUMN: Become an engaged campus

It’s high time to beat Purdue… at voting.

IU is having a friendly competition with the Big Ten schools to see which campus can outshine the others in student electoral engagement. 

Every IU student eligible to vote can help us rise to the challenge, but you can’t vote if you’re not registered, so consider taking that first important step Sept. 26, National Voter Registration Day. Across the country, this day presents an opportunity to set aside differences and celebrate democracy, especially the right and responsibility to make your voice heard by voting. 

Did you know that on our campus, based on data from the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, less than half, 45.4 percent, of IU students cast a vote in the general election of 2016? Things were worse than that in 2012 with only 40.7 percent of eligible students voting. 

The Political and Civic Engagement program, with strong support from the Provost’s Office, wants to see much greater student electoral engagement. 

We joined the Big Ten Voting Challenge to show that IU can rise to the top of the Big Ten, not just outshining Purdue, but also the University of Michigan, the Ohio State University and other schools in our conference. 

PACE aims to help students become more informed, engaged and active citizens in public life in a variety of ways. You will find PACE students – joining forces with the College Democrats and College Republicans and others – tabling to register voters on campus from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 26 at the corner of 10th Street and Fee Lane. This will continue on subsequent Tuesdays at various locations from noon to 2 p.m. throughout the month of October.

In addition to exercising this important right of citizenship, PACE encourages students to explore different perspectives and the underlying values. One of the best ways to do this is to have productive conversations where people consider other perspectives and gain greater understanding about the complexities that surround an issue. 

For most issues, there are many perspectives to consider beyond a black-and-white approach of supporting or opposing it. We appreciate spirited competition, but American citizens can get deeply entrenched in thinking we have to take a “side,” we have to be “right” or we have to overcome the opposite perspective to maintain a good reputation. 

In many ways, this limited thinking continues to perpetuate conflict, frustration and gridlock. It is time to recognize great value in moving beyond black-and-white thinking to a true exploration of issues as a collective. 

If you would like to become more politically and civically engaged and develop your skills at civil discourse and collaborative problem-solving, consider checking out our program. We offer a certificate in Political and Civic Engagement and a minor in leaders and leadership. 

But first, please, take that step to being a responsible citizen and register to vote. And in the process, we can show the Boilermakers, Buckeyes and other Big Ten schools what a civically-engaged campus really looks like.

Sandy Shapshay, Director of PACE

Lisa-Marie Napoli, Associate Director of PACE

Indiana University 

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