With the upcoming national election around the corner, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs formed a committee called the Boston College Civic Engagement Initiative for the first time since the 2012 presidential election.
This committee works alongside BC organizations like the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC), the Eagle Political Society (EPS), and the Boisi Center to get students involved in the community surrounding them.
Carol Hughes, senior associate dean of students and project manager for the Civic Engagement Initiative, said the initiative is taking advantage of the interest in the current election to get students involved in talking about the issues.
It has held the initiative at BC during the 2012 election and that same precedent was used to bring it back again this year.
“It’s really easy to get it going during a national election because it’s interesting, and this is a very interesting election for people,” Hughes said. “So we just thought it made sense to get some of the same players back in the room.”
With events like Constitution Day, Voter Registration Day, and debate and election watches, the initiative hopes to get BC students involved in a discussion that is happening across the nation. According to Hughes, events like this in the past have fostered conversations among the students.
But civic engagement is not just about voting, it’s about being involved in the community in all sorts of different ways.”
—Carol Hughes, senior associate dean of students and project manager for the Civic Engagement Initiative
“At all of these debates, the Eagle Political Society said that during the breaks they have historically led some group conversations about the debates,” she said. “So students are talking to other students about what the issues are here, which is great.”
In addition to Voter Registration Day and debate watches, the initiative is also collaborating with the freshman House Calls Program. An event that started last year, the House Calls Program involves volunteers from the University going door-to-door in freshman dorms and checking in on them to see how they’re adjusting.
Events they will host include debate watches in the freshman residence halls with the residence hall directors on Newton Campus for students who may not want to go all the way to Robsham Theater to watch the debates.
With the first presidential debate today and National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, the Civic Engagement Initiative is kicking into gear as Election Day approaches. Hughes hopes to see 500 students at Robsham tonight at 9 p.m. to watch the debate.
Additionally, the Civic Engagement Initiative is collaborating with the Boisi Center on two events: Speak, Stand, Sit or Scream? How Young People Engage Politics & the World in 2016 on Wednesday, Sept. 28, and Religion, Ethics and the 2016 presidential campaign on Nov. 2.
Though the anchor of the initiative is the national election, Hughes hopes to keep the initiative going after Nov. 8 by getting students involved in local elections in Newton and Chestnut Hill and in UGBC elections.
“We would love to keep it going,” she said. “It’s just easier to do it around an election. But civic engagement is not just about voting, it’s about being involved in the community in all sorts of different ways.”
Featured Image by Margaux Eckert / Heights Senior Staff