Gephardt News WashU Votes

2024 election series launches with kick-off social

“Five, four, three, two, one” 

At the Engage Democracy 2024 Kick-Off Social, Associate Director for Civic Engagement Alannah Glickman led a crowded room of students through a mindful exercise focusing on the five senses. Each person focused on their surroundings to practice self-care for the election year ahead. 

On Jan. 25, the Gephardt Institute hosted the event to kick off the 2024 Engage Democracy Series at Stix House. The series, which will run throughout 2024, boasts events focused on the election to increase voter education as well as voter turnout. 

“The purpose of the event was to reflect on the importance of engaging in democracy while acknowledging that election years can surface tensions within communities. Through this event, we’ll be grounding ourselves in strategies to care for our wellbeing—individually and communally,” Alice Nelms, Engage Democracy Fellow for the institute, said.  

“The goal of this series is to provide all of you and the broader campus community with opportunities to connect and build community, learn about different opportunities, and really tap into the academic and lived experiences that you all have,” said Civic Engagement Manager Otto Brown, as he addressed the students in attendance. 

Key Engage Democracy initiatives include WashU Votes and WashU Graduate and Professional Votes, which will both contribute to the engagement effort. The students who joined the first event represented a diverse group dedicated to informing themselves for the upcoming election year.  

The event buzzed with peers introducing themselves and their stories as well as what the election year might look like for them. Prompts were posted at each corner of the room with questions such as “how do I take care of my mental wellbeing?” or “how do I take care of my spiritual wellbeing?” Within minutes, each prompt had dozens of colorful notecards showcasing various tools and techniques, such as replacing social media scrolling with in-person social connection and setting aside — and protecting — time every day for rest At the end, each person walked away with a new strategy as well as a community to connect with throughout the election process.  

“One of the reasons I joined WashU Votes was I wanted somewhere on campus where I could get involved within the WashU community and also in the larger area, and I really found that. Why I stayed involved with WashU Votes is because of all the people,” WashU Votes Co-President Hannah Pignataro said. 

All members of the WashU community are invited to submit nonpartisan event proposals to the Engage Democracy 2024 series, such as debate watch parties and analysis; speaker and panel events, educational events around ballot initiatives, and creative and arts-based events. To submit your proposal, visit our 2024 Engage Democracy page.