Dr. Vincent Intondi remembers joining his parents every Election Day as a child growing up in upstate New York. Voting was done inside a booth, under a curtain, and by pulling a lever. The day has always represented a celebration of democracy in his household. Now, as a professor at Montgomery College’s Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus, he is part of MC Votes, a collegewide effort to engage students, even offering transportation to the polls in the form of party buses.
Creating a community around voting is what MC Votes has been promoting this semester, said Rockville Campus’ Service-Learning Coordinator Nik Sushka, who is leading the ad hoc working group across the College. “There have been efforts across the country and in other countries to create a community atmosphere: to get neighbors and friends to vote together and have a celebration around the right to vote,” Sushka said.
Sushka has been spearheading the MC Votes effort since the summer by connecting with faculty and staff across MC, and hosting activities that range from musicals to lectures and voter registration drives at all three campuses.
“A lot of departments and programs already host activities related to civic engagement, government and politics during election cycles, but there was not a unifying effort across the College that would help students and employees get educated about the way elections impact our lives or to get active in their local government,” Sushka said.
Student Life and Service Learning held activities on Constitution Day, Sept. 17, a day set aside for schools to teach about the U.S. Constitution. At Takoma Park/Silver Spring, Student Life Director Kimberly Herrera collaborated with Intondi in putting together a democracy teach-in: a class that served as a Government 101 lesson in what the midterm elections are and how the voting process works.
“I had three goals: to motivate, to educate, and to register,” Intondi said. “We have students who are immigrants or first-generation, we have adults who don’t know what gerrymandering is, and our system can be very complicated, from the Electoral College to the midterms, so I wanted to educate students on all the ins and outs of what is happening.”
Hopefully, we will be able to leverage all of the educational work that we do here to help create better citizens and better civic engagement across the community
Participants were able to take copies of the Constitution, enter a raffle by completing a trivia quiz, and get pizza in the process. Abdul Rahim, a student at Takoma Park/Silver Spring, thought the event was helpful: “It motivates everyone to take action to vote because every vote matters.”
Sushka and her team will be holding the Party to the Polls event on Friday, Oct. 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. “We are providing party bus shuttles during early voting to the take people to the polling places and then we are having a party open to everyone. We will have food, games, and music at each campus,” Sushka said. Same-day voter registration will be available at early voting sites. For more information about this event, contact Nik Sushka at email@example.com
Intondi will hold a watch party at the Institute for Race, Justice, and Civic Engagement on election night starting at 7 p.m. The institute is located on the second floor of the P4 building at the TP/SS Campus.
Other events have been part of the collegewide effort as well, such as National Voter Registration Day on all three campuses and Petticoats in Politics: A One-Woman Musical, held at the Germatown Campus. This month, the College held The State of the Senate at the Rockville Campus, a panel discussion moderated by former Congresswoman Connie Morella that included a lineup of former cabinet members under Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.