On the rainy afternoon of Oct. 28, the Student Democracy Coalition hosted the annual Democracy Day event. In this event, students on WCU’s campus were able to speak to North Carolina representatives from many different parties just days ahead of election day.
The energy in the air was electric as students talked through policy points with representatives from the state. Participating individuals ranged from congressional, NC legislative, and judge candidates, all making their pitch to gain the vote of WCU students. No matter the party affiliation both student and candidate are engaged and interested in the questions and answers of one another.
Upon entering the event you are given a “democracy day passport” and tasked with gaining three signatures from the event’s represented candidates. After gaining the forementioned signatures you are given a T–shirt and lunch from the Student Democracy Coalition; however, the real prize was being able to meet and learn from the people who most Western Carolina students have the opportunity to vote for.
Lane Perry of the Student Democracy Coalition spoke on the participants in the event, stating, “We have 15 candidates ranging from congressional to state legislative candidates through to judicial and local county candidates up and down the ballot from all parties. We have nearly 250 attendees over the 2.5-hour program and this was all organized by a crack team of over 15 volunteers. We had Catamounts Care Student Ambassadors on site helping with health and safety policies such as wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, and keeping our cap under 40 in the tent at any one time. Overall, it was an exceptionally well-run event.” Out of the candidates, students had the chance to speak with Victoria Fox who is running for North Carolina state Senate and Justin Greene who is running for judge. Both remained outgoing in the face of the dismal weather and pulled students out of the milling crowd to engage with them. Fox spoke about a number of issues including but not limited to, environmental issues, public education funding and police policy. Greene spoke on his qualifications for the position he is running for and on his policy points and hopes for the prosperous future of North Carolina.
According to Perry, “The Democracy Day 2020 event – even with all things considered – was an excellent success.” From an outside view of the event that fact was evident. Students crowded the small tent eager to get a look at what was happening inside. “For me it speaks volumes to the team and our preparation that we were able to pull off a safe, well–run, and well–attended program amidst a global pandemic and in a torrential downpour. It also speaks volumes to our student body’s commitment to pursuing first-hand knowledge from the candidates themselves.” Perry continues on by saying, “In comparison to previous years – and I said this to our team – this was the most well run and organized Democracy Day since the inaugural one back in October 2016. The team came together and made sure every aspect of the day and program was well organized and prepared.” Perry and his team had a total of 250 participants not including students, organizers, and guest speakers.
“The truest testament to the program is when you hear student attendees say something like – that was exactly what I was waiting for – I now know who I am voting for! That is the point in the program to bring the ballot to life!” Their goal was to educate western students about their vote for the election and encourage young voters to engage is civil discourse and politics and as long as events like what was held on Democracy Day continue, voters can count on a more educated vote from their college students.
For more information on the Student Democracy Coalition and future events at Western Carolina, check out vote.wcu.edu