Election viewing encourages student political engagement

Hannah Gaven/The Miscellany News.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, voters flocked to polls across the country, eager to have their voices heard. That night, Vassar students gathered in the Aula, where the VC Democrats, Vassar Women in Foreign Politics and Democracy Matters hosted an election night viewing party. These orgs provided a space for students to watch the CNN coverage of the midterm election results while enjoying pizza and the company of their peers.

Even at the beginning of the event, the room was buzzing with excitement. The students at the event were engaged in discussions about the political landscape and the representatives being elected. Only a few students used their open phones and laptops to complete assignments. Instead, the majority of them were researching representatives who were running for office or polling results as they came in. Viewers were eager to see how their votes had impacted the country.

After the event, both attendees and organizers had overwhelmingly positive things to say about the turnout and the conversations that transpired. According to members of the Vassar Democrats executive board Cecilia Bobbitt ’19, Yase Smallens ’20, Josie Schermerhorn ’21, Clara Schaeffer ’21, Ivanna Guerra Navarro ’20 and Claire Brigden ’21 in an emailed statement, “The Aula was filled until we starting cleaning up at 11:45 p.m., a successful event in our opinion. Regardless of the results, we created a space for the Vassar community to come together. We believe that most people left the election watch party feeling more hopeful for a progressive future.”

Hannah Gaven/The Miscellany News

Attendee Tessa Charles ’22 reflected on the gathering: “The atmosphere of the viewing party was so hopeful and welcoming. I loved how supportive everyone was in making sure people had the opportunity to vote!” The supportive environment encouraged students to engage in open discussions about the elections, which represents a crucial step in making sure that every young person is an active political participant.

The event showcased Vassar students’ extensive political participation and awareness, which attendee Laura Vidano ’21 suggested is indicative of the type of commitment that will be seen from young people throughout the coming years. Vidano explained, “Everywhere I went on election day, people were talking about the election. I kept hearing people saying they just voted, reminding each other to vote. After hearing for so long about how young people aren’t engaged in the political process, the energy on campus during this election has given me a lot of hope for the future.”

The organizations involved encouraged students to continue these conversations. One such way students can do so is by attending the weekly meetings of VC Democrats, Vassar Women in Foreign Politics and Democracy Matters, each of which provides attendees space to engage in political discussions. The continuation of these discussions, in cultivating increased voter participation, is a crucial step toward altering the political landscape to reflect young people’s voices.

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