The midterm elections are fast approaching, and Dr. Rob McMonagle’s State and Local Government class is doing its part to ensure that students are aware and involved.
McMonagle has divided his class into three working groups. One is planning a voter registration drive, another is organizing a debate watch and discussion, and a third group is promoting the first two efforts.
“Voting is a prerequisite to good citizenship,” says McMonagle. “We have every right to complain and to pressure policymakers provided we vote, but I do not want to hear people grumble and moan about X, Y, or Z in their community and about decisions made in Washington, DC, unless they voted.”
The voter registration group is staffing tables beginning this week on the patio outside Bruder Life Center. Their strategy, collaborating with the Student Affairs staff, is to engage students as they move from residence halls and Bachmann to the dining hall. The midterm registration deadline in Pennsylvania is October 24.
A second student team will host Pizza and Politics, a discussion of issues on October 25, after the debate between Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate candidates Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman. Interested students can gather in Sora Luna Lounge for free pizza at 7 p.m. and watch the debate, which begins at 8 p.m.
After the televised forum, McMonagle’s students will moderate a town hall discussion that will welcome comments about any state or local race. Some Neumann alumni currently working in the political arena may drop by to add their perspective to the conversation.
The students charged with promoting both the voter registration effort and the town hall have launched a campaign on Instagram, posting colorful flyers to urge classmates to make their voices heard at the ballot box and in civil debate.
“Pizza and Politics has shown me how much my generation genuinely cares,” states Lelah Tehmeh, a student on the promotion team. “We often see the narrative that our generation doesn’t care about voting or politics, but this project has challenged that view. Everyone in my class is so passionate about this effort … and I am beyond happy to be a part of a generation that not only cares but acts on what we care about.”
Dillon Manchester, a student in the class, agrees. “It's important for college students to express their thoughts and ideals through voting,” he says. “With lower turnout for younger voters, many voices are silenced beneath the roar of an older voting population. College students can influence elections and ensure that their values are protected.”
“At Neumann, we need to understand our world in order to have a positive impact, hopefully in the Franciscan spirit,” McMonagle explains. “In my view, the Neumann community should take this to heart and start by registering to vote or checking their polling location at Vote.org. Then attend our Pizza and Politics PA Senate debate on October 25th. What student would pass on free pizza?”
Every other year, whether the elections are midterms or coincide with Presidential contests, McMonagle, who is a member of Neumann’s Civic Engagement Committee, activates this class to promote civic participation by the campus community.