This semester Zachary Bynum has taken a selfie with Hillary Clinton, been taught by Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, canvassed in the freezing New England cold for Ted Cruz, and listened to Congressman John Lewis.
A first-year student at Wake Forest University from Richmond Hill, Georgia, Bynum is one of 22 students participating in #WakeTheVote. Under the guidance of Harris-Perry and Marianne Magjuka, students have traveled to caucuses and primaries, volunteered for various campaigns, written blog posts, and encouraged their Wake Forest peers to register to vote. The diverse cohort of students represent various parties, states, and backgrounds.
“Our source of joy is not so much being able to meet these awesome people as much it was seeing the students critically think about civic engagement and the presidential election and what it means to be a student at this time,” said Magjuka.
Wake Forest’s Dr. Danielle Parker stressed that students had no idea how the program would evolve and expand. “These students were committed early on before it was this shiny thing, they didn’t know they were going to have the chance to be in different media, they didn’t know any of that. They were really dedicated to the democratic process,” said Parker.
This is the first election that Bynum has been able to vote in. He felt particularly proud about voting in the North Carolina Primary. “It almost felt like a give back to the work we’re doing for Wake The Vote,” said Bynum.
The most transformative portion of the class thus far for Bynum was canvassing in South Carolina for Hillary Clinton. “It made me see the reality of American division.” He blogged about this moment and the difficulty in convincing individuals in the rural town that they needed to partake in the democratic process even though they had been failed by politicians previously.
This summer students are required to devote a significant amount of their time to a political campaign or organization geared toward civic engagement and the democratic process.
Bynum will be at Democracy North Carolina this summer. Additionally, students will attend the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention.
Once students return to Winston Salem, N.C., in the fall, they will focus on get out the vote efforts and continue to engage in dialogue, participatory action, coursework, and program planning regarding the election.
WAKE THE VOTE