A week after elections have taken place, the Student Democracy Coalition has held a reflection for students, faculty, staff, and community members to join and discuss their thoughts. Dr. Lane Perry began by explaining our agenda and saying that it was a place where people needed to be non-partisan where we are respectful of the thoughts and emotions of others.
There were only a few members joining, myself included, but important conversations were still held. After watching the election video by Chancellor Kelli Brown and another one with students involved on campus, everyone gave their opinions and the large consensus was that it was appreciated that the Western Carolina community accepted its students, no matter who they did or did not vote for. Lane Perry wonderfully concluded the conversation by saying that we are not blue or red, but purple instead.
The first prompt was discussing our experience with voting and way we voted in this election. It seemed like most people in this zoom group voted was because they wanted to vote for those who could not vote but who the votes would still impact. This could be people underage or immigrants or even people who are not white.
Personally, I felt like it was my duty to vote for me and for other people. Dr. Lane Perry made an interesting comment about how even though this vote is yours specifically, most people have the urge to be selfless during the vote and think about those that matter the most to them.
A confusing event that happened this year was the surge of mail in ballots. Many people did not know how to complete one or if it would actually be counted, but it was a necessity in this election during COVID-19. One advantage to mailing in a ballot that another student mentioned was that voters could look up the candidates on the ballot while voting and that reduced much of the pressure of picking candidates.
Another staff member discussed the importance of being informed when voting. This means staying away from the fake news that Facebook typically surrounds and also voting with your heart. These may be at odds many times, but it seems that this election they were one with one another for those participating in this election.
The following discussion question was how we thought a perfect democracy would look. Free will came into the conversation and the general consensus was that you cannot enforce policies to make people better in your eyes. These policies can negatively impact people for a hundred years as we have already seen with not letting black people and women voting. Another topic was free and fair voting where people who have the right to vote are actually given a chance.
Dr. Lane Perry mentioned that many youths are not surrounded by the communities that promote the importance of democracy but rather scared away by rumors and fake news. He says how we are brought up saying not to talk about politics, but it is a conversation that needs to take place. He also speaks on the media and how they have a responsibility to tell the population the truth and not to tell them what sounds the best.
Another staff member, Brian Garland said that he pictures a perfect democracy where people have the chance to vote. He expanded by saying that there should be incentives or days off where people are given the time to vote and educated on how to.
The third discussion began with thoughts on how to take action on regular days to promote democracy. An easy way to do this is to simply have conversations about politics and conversations, to normalize those topics.
It is also important to be approachable to those who want or need to be heard. Dr. Lane Perry also added onto this by saying that by being that person who listens without judging, you will learn so much from those people who choose to be vulnerable with you and that “a conversation can be an experience.”
Donating is also extremely important, if it is simply just donating your time because it shows what you care about and how you help others. This can also aid organizations in getting grants based on the number of volunteers they have. Voting is not the only or biggest thing you can do to make a change in this country.
In conclusion we chose three things: a rose (something currently beautiful), a bloom (something that has potential to be beautiful), and a thorn (something that is difficult and painful). This is something I will leave our readers to fill out, to give their own opinion. I ask you now, how do you feel? What do you think? Submit via Letters to the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our Facebook page.