The Center for Political Engagement was founded in 2014 as a space for collaboration and conversation about politics at Davidson. We also share a goal of connecting politically-minded students and hosting events of interest to many.
The Center for Political Engagement currently operates as an umbrella over our three partisan organizations—the College Democrats, College Republicans and College Libertarians—and provides a space for independents to make their voices heard as well. We work together to foster more dialogue about political activism, ideologies and current events.
Since we work in a multi-partisan environment, our events are generally both well balanced and well attended. In the fall of last year, we focused our efforts around voter education and engagement with candidates. This spring has included concentrated efforts to plan events such as a justice reform conference, open discussions to bring together the new Planned Parenthood group and the College Republicans, a forum on women in politics, and a joint venture with the Department of Philosophy to explore immigration. We are always trying to wrangle big-time political speakers and officeholders. While we work within a tight budget, we also hope to expand the range and size of our events in the future.
We have worked hard to foster a climate where conversation takes precedence over dissent and frustration. While we have experienced some tense disagreements, people are still talking to each other and that has already been incredibly impactful. There was a period at the end of the semester when people were simply burned out by the election, but most are bouncing back and ready to take action. There’s a lot of energy on campus right now, and our priority at the moment is to help connect people to opportunities to make a difference.
The election was a wild ride for most of us and was an extreme test of the ability of an organizational model like the Center for Political Engagement. Our team did an incredible job of balancing our own beliefs with the goals of inclusiveness and fostering of conversation with people of many different ideologies. This professionalism created a space for people on campus to explore their options and learn more about their peers’ opinions and experiences in positive ways.
Going forward, we hope to continue to provide opportunities for our students to become engaged. We have made solid connections with partisan groups and elected officials outside of Davidson and hope to provide pathways to internships and community involvement, especially as Davidson becomes even better known for our energetic and active students. The recent election and new administration have pushed many students to raise their voices, and we are here to help them explore and identify causes of interest, as well as guide them to opportunities to help make the change they wish to see.