As municipal and U.S. national election campaigns ramp up — with Alamance County municipal elections being held Nov. 7 — Elon civic engagement organizations such as Elon Votes arrange events to get students involved.
The next Republican primary debate is scheduled for Nov. 8. As of Oct. 24, there are no Democratic primary or general election debates scheduled for the 2024 presidential election campaign.
Elon Votes organized a watch party for the second Republican National Debate, which aired on Sept. 27. Senior Tori Kelleher, an involvement ambassador for Elon Votes, said watch parties are hosted at Elon for both Republican and Democratic debates and are meant to foster discourse.
“Events are meant to facilitate casual discussion amongst students in a safe, nonpartisan environment without needing prior knowledge,” Kelleher said.
Kelleher said she hopes that hosting watch parties will help facilitate more student awareness of and participation in the 2024 elections — starting with primaries this spring.
“I am hopeful that, since discourse around the 2024 election has begun so early, more students will be tuned in. As an organization, Elon Votes aims to advocate for civic engagement and political participation for every student, regardless of political leanings,” Kelleher said. “I have already noticed lots of discussion around campus regarding next year’s election, and I hope that continues.”
Freshman John Lund, a political science student and member of Elon College Republicans — a student-run group that works to promote and protect Conservative and Republican minded students on campus —, said student participation in debates and elections is important.
“I felt that a decent number of students watched the debate, and it was something that a vast array of people watched,” Lund said.
Lund also said he felt the current political climate is too polarized.
“Things have indeed become too divided,” Lund said. “Many republicans say that this was initially due to the introduction of former President Trump, but I personally believe that gaps have been forming in both parties as both grapple with a changing time and new challenges.”
According to Lund, Elon as a university should be doing more to get students involved in local and national politics.
Lund said this could take the form of a radio show or podcast for students to participate or consume.
“I feel the school can push students to get more involved in politics and political parties, maybe by emphasizing the importance of debate and creating a friendly type of format for people to politically voice their opinions,” Lund said.