Cheers rang out from the Esch-Hurvis Room in the Warch Campus Center on Nov. 6 as students watched results for the Senate, House of Representatives, and Presidential elections on the projected screen at the LU Votes: Rock the Results event. The Lawrence University College Republicans and College Democrats also sponsored the event.
Rock the Results was more than just watching a screen and tallying votes. On the other side of the room, various campus bands played their sets on a stage and helped some of the stress dissipate as electoral votes were counted. Events also included a bean bag toss, a quote game, a raffle and a variety of snacks.
The idea for this event came into being when junior Jack Canfield was having lunch with assistant dean of students for Campus Life Curt Lauderdale. Canfield thought it would be a good idea to have an event such as this to bring the students supporting both major political groups together at Lawrence. After this brainstorm, everything fell into place relatively easily.
Both major political parties were offered an invitation to participate and both agreed to take part. Each group hosted a game as well as president of LU Republicans and junior Josh Graber and president of LU Democrats and junior Polly Dalton were both pleased with the lack of polarization at the event.
“I think the groups did a good job making the event non-partisan,” said Graber.
Dalton said in reference to the wide range of opinions present at the event, “Here at Lawrence, we are so diverse in terms of background and that makes it fun to watch as people see their state’s decision.”
From there, a team made up of faculty and students, democrats and republicans worked for the last month and a half to turn Canfield’s idea into a reality. Different people took on different parts of the night. This group was comprised of Graber, Dalton, Canfield, Lauderdale, senior Katrina Zosseder, junior Alex York and senior Ally Kunath. Each person took on some role in planning and executing the event, including arranging food, scheduling bands, decorating the large room, promoting the event, and the preparing the popular raffle.
“It’s really amazing how they put this all together so that so many things are going on at once,” said Melina Jaharis, a sophomore and student attendee who commented on the variety of activities. “I think it all balances very nicely.”
Sara VanSteenbergen, Campus Life programming coordinator, worked with different student groups as well as writing a grant for a Campus Election Engagement Project. This grant helped pay for the event, as well as for the raffle prizes.
“I think that this event is very important because it helps students see how those little bubbles they fill in can make a huge impact on the world outside the voting booth,” said VanSteenbergen. Regarding the aim of the evening, she said “it is also great to see some bipartisanship in action with both the college Democrats and Republicans playing a role in the planning of this event.”
More than 450 people attended the event, which was higher than some preliminary estimations. On the whole, everybody seemed pleased with the event even if they were not altogether pleased with the outcome of the election itself.