Post-election dialogue: Civility and Engagement on Nov. 9 and beyond: On Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. in Town Hall of the Leadership Studies Building, a post-election dialogue will be hosted to help heal divisions and build future engagement opportunities. ICDD facilitators will join other co-sponsors in offering participants useful ways of expressing their responses to the election process, results, and issues they are dedicated to in the coming year. Read more here.
The Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy (ICDD) experienced a spike in demand for facilitation and coordination services this election season. The needs for civility and constructive formats for public conversation came from many organizations. A sample:
Eisenhower Presidential Library - God, Guns, and Freedom Forums: The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) urged all of the U.S. Presidential Libraries to host forums on the first and second amendments to the U.S. Constitution this fall, to celebrate the 225th Anniversary of the Bill of Rights. What some might regard as adventurous or even provocative, given the election-year climate, proved to be an effective counter-demonstration to the heated debates of this time.
On September 20th, the first forum, “Rights to Freedom of Speech and Religion,” featured three panelists: Thea Nietfeld, Director of Community and Restorative Justice Offender Victim Ministries; Courtney Fowler, Great Plains Conference Lay Leader of the United Methodist Church; and Michelle Schroeder, President of the Faith, Family, and Freedom Alliance of Kansas. Panelists were each given fifteen minutes to present their perspective on the subject. During this time members of the audience filled out cards with questions and speaker names to solicit for answers. During the second half Dr. David Procter, Director of ICDD, read the cards and provided follow-up questions to the panelists. The same protocol was followed by Dr. Tim Shaffer, Assistant Director of ICDD, on October 25th with three panelists on the topic, “The Right to Bear Arms:” Dennis Weese, Kansas Concealed Carry Certified Instructor; Dion Lefler, Government and Politics Senior Journalist with the Wichita Eagle; and Janet Hanson, a nurse in the Salina school district.
“The questions people asked at both forums were quite varied but respectful and openly curious,” reported Donna Schenck-Hamlin, ICDD Project Coordinator. “They ranged from fact questions about statistics to questions of how the speakers could explain their personal beliefs, which really dominated the first forum.” Public comments collected by Eisenhower Library staff were positive: “What a great discussion!” “We need more dialogue like this one.” “Balanced, articulate positions.
“Voter Readiness” Brown Bag Luncheon: On November 4th, Donna Schenck-Hamlin coordinated the third CECD Brown Bag discussion, this on the topic of campus and community voter registration drives leading up to the election. Over 700 people were registered during several events surrounding National Voter Registration Day, according to the League of Women Voters of Riley County coordinator Maureen Pruitt.
Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Colene Lind, gave students in her Communication Studies class first-hand experience helping citizens overcome confusion about where to vote, how to get registered on the voter rolls, and what is required of Kansans for identification and proof of citizenship. The overwhelming response was "Thank-you!" according to students in Lind's course and others who volunteered in Aggieville, at Purple Powerplay, in Hale Library, Leadership Studies, Nichols Hall, and the Recreation Complex.
Maggie Stanton, Senior in Mass Communications, demonstrated social media campaigns (@mhkyouthvote, #apathyisagony) to excite young voters that she and other students created in a course taught by Assistant Professor Angela Zhang. Student Governing Association Arts and Sciences Senator, Stephen Kucera, discussed opportunities to continue student engagement in community issues during the spring semester using events such as “Pizza and Politics” forums.