Political Involvement Week offers daily opportunities for student engagement

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Even breakfast foods hint of students’ civic responsibilities during Dixie State University’s Political Involvement Week.

Free breakfast — red, white and blue pancakes included; appearances by prominent figures in Utah politics; and opportunities for students to register to vote all round out 2014’s slate of events for Political Involvement Week. Sponsored by the DSU Student Association, the week’s breadth of activities increases each year. 

Vice President of Academics D’Andre Mathews, a senior biology major from Las Vegas, organized Political Involvement Week. Although 2013’s PIW featured marquee events, students only need to look at the event’s schedule to see why this year stands out, he said.

“This year’s Political Involvement Week will be different because there is an event every single day,” he said. “There’s an event every day to allow students to get involved and get engaged.”

Political Involvement Week ensued Monday with the aforementioned breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and a local legislator debate from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Gardner Center Ballroom. In addition, Jordon Sharp, director of student involvement and leadership, said at the breakfast, student government unveiled the first clue to find the DSU Rock: worth $500 to its captor.

“At each event, additional clues [were] given to hone in on the rock’s location along with more food and a chance to meet our candidates up close and personally,” he said. “It is the perfect blend of fun and political involvement.”

Tuesday’s lone event was the County Commissioner Debate from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Gardner Center Ballroom. Mathews said the debates and candidate forums during PIW hold particular importance as they introduce students to the local political scape. Although some students attend DSU with only the next four years in mind, understanding local issues helps bolster their experiences, he said.

Events with Utah state Sen. Luz Robles, from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Gardner Center Living Room, and U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, at 6 p.m. in the Gardner Center Ballroom, fill Today’s docket.  

Mathews said representing multiple viewpoints during PIW fulfills DSUSA’s goal of bridging the gap between students with different ideologies.

“The best thing students can do to reach a stronger campus community is to just reach out those who don’t share the same views as they do, you know?” Mathews said.

“Blue Night: Democrat Night” is Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Gardner Center Ballroom. With three guest speakers, the event, compounded with Stewart’s appearance at “Red Night: Affording the Future,” builds to what Sharp said is the most complete PIW.

“This year’s Political Involvement Week brings local, state and national politicians from both sides of the aisle to DSU to interact directly with Dixie students,” he said. “Never has an event brought so many candidates to Dixie State from all different levels.”

Both Mathews and Sharp said DSUSA saved the most crucial event for last: Road to Registration Tour. The lieutenant governor’s office will help people register to vote outside the Gardner Center.

Mathews said the event not only provides DSU students a chance to register to vote, but also showcases DSU’s campus to state politicians.

“Everything leads up to the [lieutenant governor’s] office coming down and getting people registered to vote,” he said. “That’s what we’re all leading up to. It provides a chance for political figures to see our campus.”