Mari Boyle, a Political Science sophomore at Cal U noted;
“The experience was extremely beneficial as we compared the obstacles both of our clubs face at our universities and also shared practices that worked for our clubs. Both clubs struggle with lack of student involvement, each of our universities suffers from low student enrollment so getting volunteers to help staff events that our club sponsors is difficult. This results in our club not being able to have many events and thus, it makes it difficult to promote our club around campus. Similarly, we face a lack of attendance at our many events. This includes fundraisers, panel discussions, special speakers, and voter registration drives. I learned a lot from the students of Penn State New Kensington.”
Penn State New Kensington student, Broderick Gerano, a junior biology major responded by saying, “In actually discussing with Cal U's campus engagement group, we recognized some of our real strengths that we could utilize and where we may face problems in the future, especially at University Park. So, we learned where we should continue aiming after and what to expect to happen in the future.”
Following the discussion between the student organizations, the Cal U students took their visitors on a tour of campus which concluded at the campus Convocation Center, where the students attended a candidate’s forum of the Democratic and Republican candidates rivaling to represent the 49th Legislative District in the PA State House of Representatives.
Gerano stated, “The debate we got to see was really neat for me because I usually watch the presidential debates but to see state-level candidates debate was different, but made me realize that we students as normal citizens can get involved in politics, whether as candidates, by attending these debates, or in other ways. Getting to visit Cal-U helped me understand what our group needs to do moving forward, how we can link up with other campuses, and how we can just be active in politics in our day-to-day lives.” Communications major and senior Sarah Steighner, from Penn State New Kensington added, “Bouncing ideas off of other involved students, from a different campus, was both informational and valuable… Additionally, getting to watch the debate and hear local candidates running for office provided a well-informed political atmosphere that was educational to listen to.”
Unanimously, the students from both institutions said they learned new strategies to use for voter registration. Mobility seemed to be the key for success when performing voter registration according to the students. Both student organizations agreed in the future they would like to visit more classrooms and connect to majors based on issue specific matters.
Boyle concluded, “Getting the chance to learn from another club, as well as helping them in return, and making connections so that our clubs can work together in the future was an invaluable experience. It not only will benefit myself, but ultimately California University of Pennsylvania as a whole as we grow our connections to more campuses.”
For more information on nonpartisan election engagement and how to work on your campus, visit the Campus Election Engagement Project or contact Regional Organizer Courtney Cochran.
Members of Penn State New Kensington’s My Vote Matters and California University of PA’s Cal Campaign Consultants gather around Cal U’s Vulcan for a group photo. (From Left to right Sarah Steighner, Millie Brasser, Laura Gensamer, Victor Valco, Cecily Petrarca, Broderick “Brodi” Gerano, Ellen “Mari” Boyle, Meghan Books, and Claudia Pehowic)