Students learn about civic engagement ahead of Election Day through ‘VT Engage’

New River Valley News

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Hokie Nation is getting ready for Election Day, with some help from ‘VT Engage,’ Virginia Tech’s center for service learning, leadership education, and civic engagement.

“We are all living and growing in the communities that we are in, and so we want them to have a community that represents them,” said Jes Davis, Assistant Director for Leadership and Civic Engagement at ‘VT Engage: The Center for Leadership and Service Learning.

Davis says the goal of civic engagement is to teach students how to have difficult conversations about issues that go on in their communities and be active in those decisions.

The Hokies Vote Caucus is a new program that supports student leaders in speaking to the campus community about voter engagement and education efforts.

“By voting, by showing up at town council meetings, or even a homeowners association meeting, this is a way that students can get their voice heard,” Davis said.

According to a 2018 report from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, 81.5 percent of Virginia Tech students were registered. However, only 43.6 percent voted in the midterm election.

“We did see this past year that there is a higher uptick in 18 to 29-year-olds that are going to be voting,” said Davis.

Davis told WFXR News that learning the importance of voting builds skills that not only serve students in college, but also throughout their lives.

In addition, Davis says they are teaching students in a non-partisan way that does not influence their vote at the polls. In other words, ballot decisions are left entirely up to the students.

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