Mobilize America offers semester-long service project

Mobilize America offers semester-long service project

by Nicole CleveringaStaff Writer

Brian Steffen, professor of communication studies, did not have his LAS class partake in the normal Monday morning service project most Simpson freshmen experience. Instead, students in the English 103 Honors Composition LAS spent their morning deciding which issues they wanted to work on this year.

The class created a list, narrowing it to four concerns. After a few weeks of deliberation, civic engagement was chosen as the issue the group wanted to tackle. The Mobilize America organization would be their partner.

Mobilize America is an all-partisan group based in Washington D.C. that provides students with the tools necessary to become activists within their communities.

Steffen stated the goals of the group’s endeavor spread beyond campus activity.

“We want to figure out ways to get Simpson students more involved in their local and national community — not just the Simpson college community — but Indianola, Warren County, Iowa and the nation,” Steffen, said.

The LAS will begin its semester-long project of with a voter registration drive that began this week.

Senior LAS assistant Tia Nearmeyer shared her views on the students’ first task.

“Once we get students registered to vote — I think that’s the easy part,” Nearmeyer said. “The harder part is getting them involved in politics so that they know who they want to vote for and then getting them to the polls in November.”

The class, which includes 19 freshmen, two LAS assistants and Steffen, plan to continue their project after the gubernatorial election. They will turn their attention to issues that directly affect college students, including student debt, public financing of education, Iowa Tuition grants and discriminatory practices against young people.

“The point that we’re really interested in is saying that democracy is a lot more than just voting,” Steffen said. “We want to try to provide a structure that students cannot just cast a ballot in November and forget about it, but really keep the pressure on these guys after we put them into office.”

Nearmeyer and freshman Bailey Harris attended the Mobilize America Conference in Kansas City, Mo., Sept. 28-Oct. 1. Both students felt the conference helped them to be prepared for the beginning of their venture.

“We got some good tips on how to bring the program to our campus — to get Simpson students registered to vote and to get them to vote, too,” Harris said.

The LAS students have high hopes and expectations for their program on Simpson’s campus.

“I believe I’ll gain a greater awareness of what it takes to be politically active, besides just voting,” freshman Jordan Peterson said.

Harris had another wish for the program.

“I think [the program] will get us even more involved,” Harris said. “It will feel good if we can get people registered and just get them more interested in politics.”

Steffen has hopes to continue the civic engagement program throughout this school year and would like to continue possibly into next year.

“I want them to learn that democracy is really something worth fighting for,” Steffen said. “It’s worth participating over, it’s worth making the center of your education and even for the smallest of victories, it’s very worthwhile.”