A Day at the Polls: Encouraging Civic Action on Election Day
At times, it can seem that getting students registered is the easy part of our work – it’s everything else that comes with it that is tough. At The College at Brockport, a SUNY institution in the great state of New York, we had the opportunity to participate with other schools around the Rochester area in a pilot program called the Monroe County Election Fellows. While the primary purpose of the program was to recruit students to serve as poll workers on Election Day, the additional outcomes that were achieved proved even more rewarding.
Promoting a Civic Ethos in Campus Residence Halls
Implementing civic engagement programs, leadership positions, and dialogue is strategic and has allowed students to participate in something to better their world locally. These residential activities align with the College’s vision of “creating opportunity for our students to achieve successful careers and purposeful lives.” Students who participate in these programs, trainings, and conversations develop a sense of purpose greater than themselves. The goal of civic engagement in the residence halls is to infuse democratic values within the living environment. This infusion shapes student’s character into one that is open-minded, civil, ethical, and empathetic which contribute to the civic ethos that Alfred State desires.
Civic Literacy and Skill Building in the Local Context
Together, and with renewed vigor, SUNY Geneseo and the Village of Geneseo have acted on the advice of Grady Bogue that “Orchestrating the tension between individual interests and community interests, between the good of self and the good of the community requires great engagement.” The engagement that has been cultivated this fall is expected to reinforce the College’s commitment to civic literacy and skill building, and civic agency, and lead to even more significant College-Village collaboration in the months ahead.
Consider Opportunities for Community Service When Choosing a College
There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a college. Adding opportunities for community involvement to the list could help prepare students for a successful career. But it might also result in stronger communities and a new generation of civic leaders.
What Kind of Day Has it Been?
Day of service events are commonplace on University campus. For many, these are traditional events held each year that create space for students to contribute to their community in the spirit of teamwork and collaboration. At their best, they can develop deep and meaningful bonds between institutions and communities. In some cases, however, these events can be come stale, systematic affairs, where participants go through the motions of service without deeply understanding their surroundings or reflecting on their work. Some institutions have eliminated day of service events altogether, opting to invest in more reflective and learning-focused experiences such as service-learning projects and alternative breaks.
Tempered Radicals, Social Entrepreneurs, and Cookie Bakers
Tempered Radicals, describe those professionals who maintain multiple, sometimes conflicting, commitments to their constituents and to social justice ideals (Dostilio, 2017, p. 16). These radicals are adept at holding conflict in one hand and leveraging relationships, priorities, and resources in the other. The one-day service during orientation is one such example. One-day events may not be as axis shifting as other high impact practices, but that does not mean they are not without merit.