Civic Engagement Week encourages Cobbers to “Be the Change”

With the 2020 election less than a year away, Concordia Student Government Association is encouraging students to learn more about being civically engaged. Last week, students across campus learned how they can best become more civically engaged in their communities. Five events were held throughout the week: a student activist panel, a Brown Bag Lunch and Learn, a letter writing campaign, a movie screening, and featured State Representative Erin Maye-Quade as the keynote speaker. 

Senior and Student Body President Sara Villalobos was a member of the student activist panel. Each member had own different experiences with activism and shared their ideas about what it means to be civically engaged at Concordia and in their own communities.

The main event of the week was Representative Erin Maye Quade, who spoke to students on Wednesday evening. Quade discussed her role as a lawmaker and a civic advocate. 

Villalobos also attended the event. 

“This conversation was the most interesting to me because there was so much advice that was proactive, and I feel it resonated a lot with campus climate,” she said. 

Villalobos also touched on how helpful and informative this event could be on students. 

“These types of events are what help educate and inform students who may want to make a difference, but don’t know how. I thought that it was crucial for students to be there and actively listening,” she said. “Being civically engaged doesn’t just come in the form of protests, and I feel that that’s a misconception a lot of people have. It’s not just about being outwardly spoken or “woke.” It’s about doing something to ensure that you are standing up for what you believe in.”

Civic Engagement Advocate Jack Fisher was pleased with how the week played out. 

“I think that all the events went really smoothly and the faculty really engaged well with all of the events and saw the value in Student Government’s commitment to Civic Engagement,” Fisher said. 

Dr. Zakhirova, professor of Political Science, was so engaged with Erin Maye Quade’s keynote address that she invited Quade to come to three of her classes the following day to give her keynote again. 

“The students in all three of the classes and the Wednesday keynote all really loved Erin’s message,” Fisher said. “One student in particular who identifies as an Independent said ‘I want to be her, with different politics, but I want to be her.’ It was super cool to see how well she was received by our community.” 

Sophomore Megan Miller, who sat in on Quade’s keynote in Zakhirova’s class, also found Quade to be extremely engaging. 

“I though Erin was really personable. She was an open book and was willing to answer any and all questions,” Miller said. 

Fisher was also impacted by Quade’s keynote address. 

“One thing Erin said that was really impactful to me was ‘Humans made it, humans can fix it.’ Referring to inequities of all kinds of sexism, racism, homophobia, socio-economic disparities. We are the ones that have to change,” he said.

Other events of the week included a letter writing campaign, where students could write letters to their representatives about issues or concerns that they may have, and a screening of the documentary “13th,” which explores the history of racial inequality in the United States. 

Fisher hopes that this week resonates with students.  

“I would say our ad-lib Thursday classroom tours were the best event of the week. Our student panel on Monday was really engaging and I thought each of the panelists brought a really interesting spin and thought process on how we bring about social change,” he said.

He also hopes that this week encourages students to be more engaged in the world around them.

“I hope that students were able to hear the message ‘Be the Change’ and realize just how much power even we have to make our world a better place, by going beyond voting and engage and care about creating change,” Fisher said.

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