Students at Westminster College who are unsure how to best prepare to vote can seek guidance from the Dumke Center for Civic Engagement and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) for the upcoming election.
The Dumke Center has previously supported voting efforts through registration drives, educational workshops and other events. While this year may look different because of COVID-19, Mariah Trujillo, Westminster junior and member of the Dumke Center Political Engagement Team, said the center still plans to host a variety of outreach events.
“Right now we are in the process of planning a week-long, sort of asynchronous, scattered event around voter registration,” Trujillo said.
During the week of Oct. 12-16, the Dumke Center will partner with the DEI Office and the League of Women Voters of Utah to host a range of events to prepare students for the November election.
“We are partnering with Dr. Tamara Stevenson and her office to make it more of a campus-wide initiative,” Trujillo said. “Part of that is this All IN [Campus] Democracy Challenge that we’re hoping to spearhead on campus.”
The All IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a national awards program that recognizes colleges and universities for commitments to increase student voting rates. Institutions are encouraged to make democratic participation a core value on campus by helping students form habits of active and informed citizenship.
Westminster got involved with the project after President Beth Dobkin suggested the idea to the DEI office, according to Dr. Tamara Stevenson.
“When I think about the role of [the DEI Office] — which is to think about how to ensure inclusion and equity in our college’s policies and practices — I think [our role] fits with this idea of voter access and voter participation,” said Stevenson, vice president of DEI and interim chief diversity officer. “This effort, in addition to what the Political Engagement Team is doing, is all about that.”
Throughout the week, the League of Women Voters of Utah will be on campus with the Dumke Center registering voters and providing educational sessions.
“On that Friday we’re going to have a virtual Zoom event where the League of Women Voters is going to have a representative, we’re going to do a panel-style [discussion],” Trujillo said. “The ballots for Utah will have been sent out by then, so they will be talking people through that process and be open to questions.”
Utah county clerks will begin mailing ballots to voters Oct. 13. However, state residents can register to vote until Oct. 23.
The League of Women Voters of Utah originally contacted Mackenzie Bledsoe, program coordinator for the Dumke Center, in the Spring semester seeking a partnership with her office.
Bledsoe said she was grateful for the cooperation, noting the professional organization could “provide some guidance” in reaching more students.
“There will always be gaps in knowledge so the more people we can bring together, the more information and resources we can have,” Bledsoe said.
The Dumke Center also expressed interest in partnering with ASW to reach more students. Those plans are still preliminary, according to Vice President Daud Mumin, who said he will serve as a liaison to link those efforts.