Cheng Library Continues Voting 101 & Civic Engagement Programs

Supporting the University's Civic Engagement Mission

     In November 2019, the Cheng Library hosted the first Voting 101 program to support informed voting decisions and acclimate students to the voting process. That first program included an in-person event complete with a mock voting booth and a hands-on smartboard to discover voter assistance resources. With the success of the initial Voting 101 program in 2019, the Library planned to expand the program in 2020 for the presidential election cycle. COVID-19 threatened those plans. However, the Voting 101 program expanded and flourished in 2020 with the help and support of several student groups and campus partners.

     The voting process during the pandemic was an entirely new experience for all voters. In response to the challenges presented by the pandemic, the Library held three virtual Voting 101 events during the fall semester. The first event was co-sponsored by Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority Inc. and Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity Inc. The event introduced students to the Library’s Voting 101 Guide, outlined the voting process and various methods for casting ballots in NJ, and responded to student questions concerning obtaining ballots and ensuring their vote counted. A follow-up event provided participants with specific instructions on completing mail-in ballots and researching candidates and ballot questions.

     The final program consisted of a webinar coordinated with the Office of Alumni Relations aimed toward William Paterson Alumni. The webinar provided alumni with voter information and resources as part of their continued journey as lifelong learners and civic participants. Thanks to the significant student support, partnerships with the Office of Campus Activities, Service and Leadership, the American Democracy Project, and the Alumni Relations Office, over 100 students and alumni attended the events. Attendees left equipped to make informed voting decisions and with confidence in their knowledge of the voting process. 

     Voting 101 was just one way the Library supported the University’s Civic Engagement mission in the fall. As part of the  Pioneer Day of Service event in September, led by the Office of Campus Activities, the Library partnered with the American Democracy Project to host the program The Presidential Election: The Power of Your Vote. The session engaged students in discussions about why voting matters, the role individual voters have on the Electoral College, and resources on informed voting and historical elections. 

     To conclude the fall semester Civic Engagement efforts, the Library launched a pilot program called “Pod-Talks.” In the Pod-Talks program, participants listen to a selected podcast episode then join a virtual event to participate in a guided discussion. The first Pod-Talk was held in coordination with the Pioneer Football team and was part of Coach Dustin Johnson’s efforts to encourage student-athletes to learn about and understand social justice issues. The initial event was titled Social Justice and the Power of Athletes and focused on the University of Missouri football team, who in 2015 launched a player boycott, where they refused to play until the university addressed the challenges of racial and social justice on the campus. The discussion was enlightening and engaging, with over 60 student-athletes participating. The Library has scheduled a series of Pod-Talks for the spring semester, focusing on racial, gender, and social justice topics.

     Information about Library Civic Engagement events  can be found on Pioneer Life, and students can earn low-level Civic Engagement credit for their attendance and participation. 



February 10, 2021