2 Minutes With … is a series of short features to introduce us to the passions and interests of Lawrence students on and off campus. Find more 2 Minutes With … features here.
Story by Isabella Mariani ’21
Jonathan Hogan ’23 had lots of downtime during his summer job as a pool worker in his hometown of Warrenville, Illinois. To pass the time, he often took refuge in political reports from The New York Times and German public radio. This is how the government and German major found himself submerged in the world of election campaign news like never before.
It drew him to his current fellowship with Lawrence’s Student Life office, serving as an essential student resource for voting information.
For more information on voting, see here.
The fellowship’s objective is simple: increase voter turnout among students. Jonathan understands that voting takes time, energy, and effort. It’s his job to ease concerns and equip students with the tools to exercise their constitutional right.
“It’s been my goal primarily to deliver the simplest message as possible and decrease the cost (in time, energy, and effort) of voting as much as possible,” he said.
Gaining new experience
As a government major, Jonathan is learning about ways to address the needs of voters, though he admits his governmental interests lie more in analytics than abstract engagement tactics. So, he’s found there’s much to learn from this experience with Student Life.
“I’ve never been good at doing big social or public events,” he said. “So, it’s been rewarding to learn how to design posters, get the word out, and attract attention and participation from the community.”
Jonathan’s Fall Term position has been ideal for practicing those skills. Before Election Day rolls around, he must host four events under different topics: voter registration, voter information, early/absentee voting, and Get Out the Vote. His impressive first move was coordinating with President Burstein to get students the day off from classes on Nov. 3 so students are more likely to be free and able to vote. It’s now one of the Mid-Term Reading Period days. You’re welcome.
Of course, this year these events must be contactless. Recently, Jonathan put up posters with information on candidates running in local races. He then brought a “one-stop shop” table to Warch Campus Center where students could get voter registration forms and other voter information; within one week, he helped 150 students complete their registration. Keep an eye out for the table in the coming days to get information on early voting or to get questions answered on other election-related topics.
Large bags of popcorn in Jonathan’s residence hall room await the final upcoming event, a virtual ballot-counting watch party.
A promising platform
With these efforts in mind, one’s thoughts turn to the ongoing difficulty in connecting with others due to the pandemic. Jonathan’s outreach campaigns are no exception. Though he’s been successful in spreading the word on voting, he still notes a lack of communal feeling when we’re trapped in a virtual world, forced into indirect means of communication. Nonetheless, he emphasizes that he’s making it work.
“It’s been rewarding in general contributing to something I feel is very important for the future of all Americans,” he said. “Engaging in communal politics in an elementary fashion is really cool.”
Isabella Mariani ’21 is a student writer in the Communications office.