Despite the fear of campus wide apathy earlier in the election cycle, the students, faculty, administration of Lawrence and outside contributors helped immerse our campus in the electoral process. A multitude of student and administration efforts made it difficult not to be at all involved or at least aware of the elections at the local and national level. On the individual level, a great number of Lawrence students volunteered their time working for political campaigns in many different capacities. Their efforts impacted the Lawrence community and the greater Fox Valley area through phone calls, canvassing, clerical work, and many other responsibilities. As a campus, we also had an overwhelming voter turnout, going in droves to vote in the days leading up to and the day of election day.
The office of Multi-Cultural Affairs and the Residence Life sponsored a civic engagement week and helped not only to register Lawrence students but inform them of the issues and candidates’ stance on them. Campus organizations like the College Democrats and College Republicans worked to raise students’ awareness of important issues as well through events like debate-watching parties, chalking campus, and staged debates on political issues.
Even the Lawrence administration was deeply involved in the election, coordinating events to inform students about the issues and the importance of voting, and making themselves visible at student held events. Administrator’s personal presence at student events is sometimes rare, and by showing up most polticial events recently, they made it obvious that widespread involvement was a priority.
Extending our gratitude even farther, many politicians on the national and state level reached out to our campus as well to let us know our voices are important. Federal senator Russ Feingold and state senator Steve Kagen personally visited campus. Candidates held debates close to campus to make themselves visible, and canvassers from political campaigns checked in dormitories to remind people to vote.
The contributions from all across our general community made for an exciting election day and a fantastic amount of involvement at every level, forcing us to put our reasoning and learning into practical action and involving us in our country’s democratic process.