Wake the Vote (WTV) is an intensive civic learning and democratic engagement experience for a highly selective group of undergraduates at Wake Forest University. WTV offers student the opportunity to form a diverse cohort, examine issues central to the presidential election, build competencies for engaged citizenship, and experience American democracy from the front lines through travel, participatory action, employment, coursework, program planning, and personal reflection.
At the start of the 2016-2017 academic year Wake the Vote accepted applications from first year students here. Nine students were accepted into the Wake the Vote cohort.
Spring 2016 – Election Travel: Wake the Vote students traveled as a cohort to the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and North Carolina primaries in February 2016. Each WTV student was assigned to volunteer on the primary campaign of a presidential candidate. These assignments were made without regard to party affiliation or ideology, giving students the unique opportunity to work for candidates across the aisle or within their party who were not their first choice.
In addition to their individual campaigning WTV students convened regularly as a group during each trip to attend debates and events; to share and discuss experiences; to meet key political and media figures; and to focus on how various issues emerged in the campaigns.
Summer 2016 – Convention Travel and Campaign Work: In July 2016, Wake the Vote students traveled as a cohort to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio and to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition to the convention travel, students worked as volunteer and paid campaign staff on political campaigns, issues campaigns and get out the vote campaigns at local, state, and national levels in their home states, in North Carolina, and across the country. They wrote extensively about their experiences
Fall 2016 – Wake the Vote Election Hub and UP to US art installation. Inspired by their experiences and the political party conventions in the summer, the students launched an election-themed exhibition hub to host conversations and events from presidential debate watch parties to panel discussions to local and national speakers. Wake the Vote is also working with nationally recognized political art curators from the Big Bowl of Ideas to launch the Up to US art installation featuring from national and local artists at WFU’s University’s Pro Humanitate Institute. Both the Election Hub and the UP to US installation are focused on four issue areas identified by the students:
- Guns/Policing/Community Violence
- Voting Rights/ Youth Political Participation