The Civicist

The Civicist: October 2018

October 2018

Civic Engagement

We emphasize that active participation in political and civic life should be rooted in the knowledge that makes one a more informed citizen, enhanced by skills that make one a more effective citizen, and grounded in values that promote the public good over private interests and a positive attitude toward pluralism and diverse perspectives.

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Our mission is to educate and inspire people to address public issues and cultivate a just and inclusive democracy.

Share your civic work and opportunities with us!

Subscribe to our Dukes Vote Google Calendar so you won’t miss an event, and please follow us on social media: Twitter: @JMUdukesvote and @JMUCivic Instagram: @jmudukesvote

Civic 10dencies

Want to build your civic skills? Our next workshop is Thursday, October 18 from 12:30-2:00 pm in Madison Union 405 where you can learn what constitutes a need for political or civic action. This workshop aims to help students who are interested in submitting a civic engagement proposal for a JMU student mini-grant. We'll discuss:

  • Issues you care about;
  • How to identify the root causes and effects of a problem or issue;
  • How to analyze contemporary and relevant problems or issues through public policy;
  • Examine the role of government and civic institutions in a specific case study.
Civic 10dencies
2018 Virginia Student Democracy Summit

On September 28, JMU hosted the 2018 Virginia Student Democracy Summit. Organized by Campus Vote ProjectVirginia 21Piedmont Virginia Community College and the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement, more than 10 campuses from across the state of Virginia were represented. Students had the opportunity to: learn about the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement; learn about voting and registration drives from Harrisonburg Director of Elections Debbie Logan and from Gary Ellis of the VA Department of Elections; attend workshops on political and news information literacy and effective messaging; tabletop discussions on public issues; and hear from keynote speaker Traci DeShazor, Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth. Campus Vote Project concluded the summit with a session helping students outline a voter engagement plan to take back and implement on their campuses. 


In the lead up to the 2018 midterm election, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ American Democracy Project (ADP) and the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement created a partnership to support campuses engaged in nonpartisan voter registration and education efforts. At the Madison Center, we firmly believe in the collective capacity of the ADP network to prepare students for meaningful and informed engagement in civic and political life, which includes becoming a voter. We are working to share and provide resources to ADP campuses and encourage participation in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.

Highlights from "Civicize We" (our new blog)

The Office of the President’s Madison Vision Series kicked off its 2018-2019 series on Constitution Day with patriotic philanthropist David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Chairman of The Carlyle Group. Our Democracy Fellow Anna Connole highlighted key takeaways from Mr. Rubenstein’s talk on our blog.

“People who are more knowledgeable about our government, more knowledgeable about our Constitution, probably are going to be better citizens, vote more intelligently and be more engaged in our country.” – David Rubenstein


Our Engagement Fellow Shelby Taraba attended Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed’s forum on the homelessness crisis in Harrisonburg and wrote an Op-Ed on homelessness that was published by The Breeze and on our blog. Shelby also wrote about her experience participating in United Way's Community Tour.

On Friday, September 21, Dukes Vote held its first Civic Coffee Donut Discussion on the topic of "Addressing Sexual Misconduct at JMU." To frame our conversation, we developed a brief primer with some statistics, questions, resources and some recommendations for next steps based on our discussions. Read more on our blog here. Our next Civic Coffee Donut Discussion is Friday, October 5 at 9:30 am in Burruss 243 and we’ll be talking about the Supreme Court nomination process.

Celebrating Democracy

The Madison Center and Dukes Vote celebrated democracy in September with lots of activities and tabling on Constitution Day and National Voter Registration Day (really it was a week for us) in D-Hall, UREC, on the Quad, in Festival and at the College of Education (thanks to Kara Kavanaugh!). On NVRD, JMU political scientists Marty Cohen, Kathleen Ferraiolo, and David Jones held a symposium on political polarization. Following the symposium, the Madison Center and Dukes Vote hosted a screening of the documentary Electoral Dysfunction in the Planetarium.

JMU Libraries celebrated Constitution Day with a few rounds of Constitutional Jeopardy in Rose and Carrier Libraries, organized by Kerry Scannell and Ryan Winfree! The simplest question on the board seemed to stump almost every single participant: Who was the only U.S. president other than James Madison to sign the Constitution? Most incorrectly answered Thomas Jefferson, but everyone was a winner when they got a 'We the People' sugar cookie. Oh, and the answer is George Washington!


Thank you to all the faculty who have supported our voter education and engagement efforts. So far this semester we have done more than 65 class visits (as of 10/2). During these visits, we’re able to meet students where they are, discuss opportunities for civic engagement and register any last minute voters! Class visits also serve as a resource for students to ask any questions about voting, registering, or getting involved in activities sponsored by the Madison Center and Dukes Vote! If you’d like us to come register students or give a five-minute presentation, please fill out this form.

Voting and Elections

Have questions about voter registration or voting? Visit our FAQ page or stop by our Civic Suite (Burruss Hall 243). We’ve also created “Election Central” with information on all our festivities celebrating elections and democracy leading up to the midterms.

One Vote Documentary Screening: One Vote tells compelling stories of diverse American voters on Election Day. Please join us in the Planetarium on October 4 at 5:30 pm for a screening and discussion about voting in America with One Vote Filmmaker Christine Woodhouse. This will be a passport event so be sure to get there early!

COSPU, Congolese Community, Faith in Action, James Madison Center for Civic Engagement, JMU Latino Student Alliance, Latinos de Valle, NewBridges Immigrant Resource Center, Skyline Literacy, and VIVA are co-organizing a Harrisonburg City Council Candidates Immigrant Forum on Saturday, October 6 at 4:30 pm at the Lucy Simms Center. Come ask your questions to the candidates and hear their visions for serving our immigrant community.

Join us for AbsenTea Time at the Commons (adjacent to D-Hall) on Monday October 8 from 3:00-5:00 pm. Dukes Vote is partnering with MAD4U & Women of Color to offer students an opportunity to fill out their absentee ballots complete with tea, scones, music, stamps, envelopes, and conversation!

In partnership with the Office of Residence Life, the Madison Center and Dukes Vote is organizing a Traveling Candidate Town Hall on October 10. Local, Congressional and Senate candidates (or their representatives) will visit three JMU Residence Halls to talk with students about the importance of the elections and why they are running.

This election season, The Madison Center and Dukes Vote are partnering with Professor Andreas Broscheid’s honors Political Science Class and The Citizen, a new civic media journal in Harrisonburg co-published by Journalism Professor Ryan Alessi and Andrew Jenner, to produce and publish a nonpartisan student voter education guide on candidates. The guide will be published in conjunction with our Traveling Town Hall.

Thanks to Dave Stringham, Jesse Rathgeber, and their students for developing a music-filled Party at the Precinct (Convocation Center) on Election Day (November 6)! Co-sponsored by #VoteTogether, we are organizing an Election Night Watch Party in Madison Union Ballroom from 7:00-10:00 pm featuring both substantive presentations and social performances, including by Jen Domagal-Goldman from ALL IN Challenge, DJ Golden Boy, and Political Poetry Readings from the Furious Flower! Find all our Election-related activities at our Election Central webpage.

Important Election-related Dates:

  • Monday, October 15, 2018 is the last day to Register/Update Address in Virginia.
  • Tuesday, October 30, 2018 is the last day to Request Absentee Ballot by mail by: 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 3, 2018 is the last day to Request Absentee Ballot by appearing in person by: 5:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 6, VOTE!
Upcoming Co-Sponsored Events


The Madison Center’s Executive Director Abe Goldberg will be facilitating a student Coffee and Conversation session at the Breaking Chains: Voices from Slavery to Civil Rights exhibit at the Lisanby Museum in Festival on Thursday, October 11 at 2:00 pm. Drawing from the Madison Art Collection and James Madison’s Montpelier, the exhibition includes prints, cultural objects, and artefacts documenting the African-American experience from the West African slave trade to the height of the American civil rights era. Featuring the voices of those who suffered under slavery and fought for equality, Breaking Chains brings focus to difficult aspects of our nation’s history while celebrating the diversity of the American experience.

Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is coming to JMU on Monday, October 8 at 5:00 pm in Madison Hall, Room 1001. Hosted by Democracy in Peril and the Madison Center, his talk is titled The Great Uncertainty: Long Term Impact of the Political Divide at Home and Abroad

Amy Lewis will speak on “Anti-Racist Advocacy, Black Lives Matter, and Arts Education” on Friday, October 19 from 9:00-10:30 am in Burruss Hall 0031. This session will be a reflection of Ms. Lewis’s involvement in Black Lives Matter (Lansing Chapter) and how it connects to the power of teaching music and art. This event is co-sponsored with the College of Visual and Performing Arts Cultural Connections Artists-in-Residence program.

The Office of the President’s Madison Vision Series is pleased to welcome Former Members of Congress Nick Rahall (D) and Jim Coyne (R) on November 1, 2018 at 3:30 pm in Grafton-Stovall Auditorium for their Congress to Campus tour.

Have you registered for JMU’s Engagement for the Public Good conference taking place November 7-9 at the brand-new Hotel Madison and Shenandoah Valley Conference Center? Don’t miss this opportunity to collaborate with peers to share strategies, research, and best practices relating to civic learning and partnering with communities on and off campus.

Other Opportunities

Apply now for the Henry Clay College Student Congress, which will take place May 12-24, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky and Washington, DC. The College Student Congress gathers fifty rising college seniors, one from each state, together with lawmakers, academics, politicians, journalists, and business leaders to learn about the dynamics of public policy and public policy decision making through the lens of the legacy of Kentucky’s greatest statesman and compromiser, Henry Clay.

The University of Oklahoma, with a generous grant from the Templeton Religion Trust, is pleased to announce a request for proposals on the topics of “The Self, Virtue, and Public Life.”

Have something to share? Send it to us at dukesvote@jmu.edu.

by Carah Ong Whaley

Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Last Updated: Thursday, April 28, 2022

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