E2020 — Supporting Student Engagement in Elections

Rob Rosenthal, Clifton Watson and I sent out this message to the campus last week.

Wesleyan has a long history of supporting student engagement in the public sphere, and our Civic Action Plan sets goals for building civic preparedness among students, faculty and staff and for enhancing the University’s role in public life.

The 2020 election cycle represents a crucial opportunity for civic engagement and liberal learning through engagement with the public sphere. We launch the Wesleyan Election 2020 initiative (E2020) with the goal of encouraging and supporting thoughtful participation of students, faculty and staff in the public sphere. Wesleyan will support electoral participation regardless of political affiliation, and we encourage work across the political spectrum.

The first stage of E2020 will make funds available to students who wish to engage in political campaigns, voter registration efforts, and issues advocacy at the local, state or national level. This kind of direct participation in civic life provides an educational richness that will help students develop skills for lifelong active citizenship, learn about themselves and how to engage productively with others with whom they disagree, and gain organizational skills.

E2020 welcomes all ideas for student work, though we will prioritize applications that seek financial or academic support:

work on campaigns, advocacy, or voter registration that will take place during school breaks (winter, spring, or summer)

work of large groups of students in the electoral process

work on local or national elections and issues that are especially contested

Since winter break will be here before we know it, we encourage students interested in financial support for this kind of work to consult this webpage and submit an application by Friday, December 13.

In the coming weeks, we will announce additional programs aligned with E2020, including service-learning courses and other credit opportunities as well as public programs and additional on-campus activities. In the interim, we welcome your suggestions for programs and other campus activities aligned with the mission of the Wesleyan Election 2020 Initiative.