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AP Government Class Opens New Opportunities for Political Participation

  • Timothy Meneses ’21

In our current political climate, the upcoming election has caused the American population to exercise their voting rights and become active participants in the 2020 presidential election. Many of our students in the AP Government and Politics class, taught by Mr. Smock and Ms. Williams, have performed deliberate efforts to educate our generation regarding the election process on campus to ensure that our future leaders are prepared to make wise decisions. According to AP Government student Sofia Wheeler, these endeavors have been a part of a “civil action project which aimed to increase [students’] involvement in the political sphere by engaging in different political campaigns and events.”

On February 27th, Conor York ‘21, Isabella Jordan ‘20, and Alexi Stavropoulous ‘20 hosted their own caucuses on campus as a part of their mission to inform and educate our community members about the election process. The Republican Caucus was held in the McGanney gym while the Democratic Caucus was held in the Practice Pavilion. In addition to running the trial caucus, informational sessions were held and emails were sent to enlighten students who “don’t know a lot about politics or don’t feel confident enough to vote” said Isabella Jordan ‘20. Several Sacred Heart Students represented one of their party’s candidates by holding up their candidates’ name on a whiteboard and planting themselves around the gym. As mock voters entered the caucus, these advocates were responsible for attracting voters. Voters who were undecided stood in the middle of the room to signal that they had not discerned which candidate they aligned with most. After all voters had chosen a candidate to stand by, a delegate counted the number of voters per candidate and eliminated candidates with minimal voters. This process continued until a singular candidate received a majority vote. Commenting on the value of having a mock caucus, Conor York ‘21 believes it is important “to get an idea of which candidates and policies were popular at SHP” and “to get [students] involved in civil discourse about politics as we don’t have those conversations too often”.

Later on March 3rd, Sofie Wheeler ‘21, Tiffany Sanchez ‘21, Caroline Box ‘21, and Lauren Hagerty ‘21 held a Super Tuesday watch party in the Homer cafeteria to observe the important political event. Super Tuesday is a crucial voting day where 30% of all the delegates in the nation conduct their state’s primary or caucus. When asked about the success of the watch party, Sofie responded, “it was a fun way to get many people on campus engaged about politics. Many people showed up to the watch party. The crowd ranged from freshmen to seniors, boys and girls, democrats and republicans. It was very cool to get a bunch of people to watch the results and engage in interesting discussions about the candidates.” She also added, “since it was such a success I would consider organizing more events like this one.” Not only is Sacred Heart growing to become more politically active and engaged in our world’s problems, but also trying to be more balanced and considerate from mistakes made in the political sphere that have caused conflicts. 

With the recent pandemic of the coronavirus, the upcoming election has become unorthodox in which advertising, debates, and voting will have to be conducted differently. Candidates have reduced travel to states and have dealt with an absence of crowds at political debates taking a toll on the progress of the political election. According to Mr. Smock, “one state just postponed their entire state primary so that’s pretty huge.” As a result of the presidential election possibly coming to a halt because of the coronavirus, our own political events on campus have stopped as well. 

The presidential election only occurs every four years, and SHP has taken the special opportunity to engage students into our nation’s politics through community wide activities. Mr. Smock also deduced that “the benefit is not just going to the students in our A.P. Gov classes; they are engaging the community as a whole through their projects which is heightening everyone’s attention on some really important questions and dynamics in our political lives.” While this interruption has barred expectations for any future political events on campus this year until further notice, SHP wishes to continue these activities as they provide insight into the voting process and politics in general.

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