Mobilize Mac, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN
“Mobilize Mac” coordinates Macalester’s public and democratic engagement around key events such as caucuses, primaries, elections, and the census that are vital to ensuring a strong democracy and participation in public life.
Originally named “Mac the Vote,” Macalester’s Civic Engagement Center began to coordinate this broad campus initiative in Spring 2016 in the months before the national election. “Mac the Vote” brought together student leaders, student affairs and academic staff, faculty members, and administrators to support institution-wide democratic engagement and civic learning, dialogue, and action.
In the 2017-2018 academic year, campus leaders met regularly to coordinate and implement voter registration drives and debate-watching events, plan campus speakers on the elections and democracy, support classes with civic engagement components, and plan campus and community art exhibits, poster presentations, and and library displays on themes of voting, democracy, and our shared public life. Macalester students participated in community voter registration drives and “get out the vote” activities as part of classes and co-curricular activities. On election day, “Mac the Vote” hosted a day-long voting celebration in the campus center to turn out the vote and raise awareness of the election as a public responsibility. Throughout the day, the initiative coordinated voting parades to the neighborhood polling place used by students living on campus and many staff and faculty. The celebratory parades were led by campus leaders and highlighted the community aspects of democratic participation while lessening barriers for first-time voters.
After the election, the group coordinated post-election responses and programming, highlighted by two days of campus-wide “community conversations” at the start of the second semester in Spring 2017, which coincided with the Presidential inauguration. The community conversations days, led by faculty and staff, engaged the social, environmental, and political questions facing the nation, and created spaces for reflection and for conversation across differences. The sessions began with an all-campus gathering. Professors opened up their classes to the campus to provide discipline-specific perspectives on issues raised by the election, and staff offered skill-based workshops.
Leading into the 2018 midterm elections, “Mac the Vote” evolved into “Mobilize Mac.” With this change “Mobilize Mac” broadened its scope of work to coordinate a series of trainings on community organizing and advocacy and informational sessions on how to caucus and vote in primaries and midterms. Mobilize Mac coordinated institution-wide planning to increase participation in the census by all members of the Macalester community. The Civic Engagement Center partnered with the Macalester Library and the Political Science Department to sponsor a session on the census for Constitution Day.
As Macalester plans for the 2020 national election, Mobilize Mac has coordinated broader campus planning around the election by hosting regular meetings of staff, faculty, and student leaders. One distinctive opportunity, “Democracy in Action,” will allow students to earn academic credit for community-based political engagement and participation in an academic seminar. Guided by a steering committee, the seminar will support students to reflect on their engagement experience and connect their political activities to broader questions of democracy and their own values and commitments. Mobilize Mac will continue to play an institution-wide leadership role to plan activities on election day and guide campus reflection and activities after the election.
Student Senate, South Central College, North Mankato and Faribault, MN
The Student Senates in North Mankato and Faribault constructed a Civic Engagement Action plan to coordinate additional involvement with the Census and Voter Registration. This action plan enlists departments across the college, including Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Students to engage them in education regarding upcoming civic responsibilities. This action plan consists of multiple efforts such as marketing materials, syllabus statements, educational sessions, and social norming; which is intended to assist in the mobilization of all students.