The Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the Hartman center and the Sustainability farm held a pandemic era election block party. Chelsea Naylor, Coordinator of Community-based Learning, explained that it was important to hold the event, despite the need for special precautions. “We’re trying to provide a non-partisan space that celebrates the spirit of democracy,” Naylor said.
Health and safety guidelines were followed throughout the event. The number of people that attended the event were closely monitored to ensure that not too many people congregated in a small area. Masks were required, and those not wearing them were asked to leave. Signs were made advising attendees to stay six feet apart. Everyone attending the event had to sign in and identify themselves in case there was an outbreak and contact tracing is needed.
There was a food truck, warm drinks, activities and of course – streaming election results.
For many students this was their first opportunity to vote in a General Election. The DePauw Instagram account was also providing live updates for those who couldn’t attend in person.
Naylor believes that the event is important as there is a lot of tension on the outcome of the election. A lot of time and care went into maintaining security and good order. “This is a fun safe space where you can celebrate the spirit of an election,” Naylor said.
Keegan Deemer, a first-year student, saw the necessity of this event and decided to help out. He helped promote the event, hung up posters and even came up with the trivia table. “I think it is an important event because everyone needs to know as much about voting and the presidential election for the democracy to work to its full potential,” Deemer said.
Joseph Harris, Coordinator of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, is trained in de-escalation tactics if a situation were to get tense. His strategy was to assume the absolute worst would happen and to plan from there. According to Harris, “If you are on a ship and sailing, you don’t plan for a beautiful day; you plan for a storm, that’s why we have lifeboats.”
Harris enforced social distancing by making sure people stayed six feet apart. He wanted to see a calm, safe and enjoyable event – not Democrat or Republican, but everyone working together. “At the end of the day, we are all DePauw Tigers,” Harris said.
People turned out to color pages, vote for the best building on campus and test their knowledge with trivia. There was plenty of delicious food and great conversation. “It was so refreshing to see students (safely) hanging out, enjoying themselves, and having fun,” Naylor said. “We had a lot of interaction at our tables and the food truck was a big hit.”
Emma Bailey, A senior, thought the event was a great way to promote civic engagement. Bailey commented, “While it is important to practice self-care, especially during this election when so much is at stake, it was nice to see DePauw practicing a form of community care.”