Connor Wooff – Cedar Rapids, IA
Jocelyn Roof – Waterloo, IA
Connor Wooff -- Political Science major, Spanish minor
Jocelyn Roof -- Political Science and Sociology double major
What is the area you participate in with Leadership & Service Programs?
University of Iowa Student Government: Hawk the Vote Initiative
Describe any current projects you’ve been working on:
We have been working together to focus voter registration efforts on campus and increase turnout in the midterm election this November. We have reached out to nearly twenty student organizations, campus partners, and community partners for collaboration. We recently wrapped up our big push with Voter Registration Week, which registered nearly 400 students. During OnIowa! week 1500 new students were registered to vote at their campus addresses. In the past month, through combined efforts, over 2000 students have been registered to vote on our campus.
What's been your favorite memory or experience with this program?
I am now unequivocally “that person” about voter engagement. I have friends and acquaintances who text me and message me on social media almost every day with questions about voter registration, absentee ballot request forms, and my take on the issues. People even send me memes in my dm’s about voting. I absolutely love to share my passion for democracy with people, and even though it’s definitely dorky, I relish the fact that I am able to be a resource for my friends and peers.
For me, the most satisfying moments have been talking with students who would otherwise not participate. Whether it’s registering them to vote, informing them on the candidates, or listening to what they care about, I can feel the progress we are making. The fact is, they want their voices heard. Students care about the cost of tuition and good representation. Some just have to be energized and educated in order to cast their ballots. UISG is proudly taking up that challenge with the help of countess campus and community partners!
How did you get involved, and what has motivated you to stick around?
I was appointed a freshman senator last year, and now serve as the Governmental Relations Chair. I have absolutely fallen in love with advocacy and amplifying student voices. This year when my committee was charged with voter engagement, it was certainly daunting. Still, I know that now more than ever, the quality and affordability of our education is entirely dependent on the civic engagement of young people. That, for me, is enough motivation to do anything and everything I possibly can to prove to my generation that their vote not only matters: it’s desperately needed, and truly makes a difference.
I have been active in politics since I was an awkward freshman in high school, so it was only natural that I continue my life’s passion here at the University of Iowa. Fortunately, the utmost intelligent and inspiring student leaders, Hira and Heath asked me to run with SURGE last spring, and then appointed me to serve as Deputy Director of Governmental Relations. This gave me the perfect opportunity to get others civically engaged too. Especially students on college campuses. In any organization, it is easy to become overwhelmed or frustrated, but what keeps me going are the people I work with and those I impact. UISG and the U of I is filled to the brim with individuals who will do everything to see that you are successful.
How will/has this program or project impact(ed) you in your future goals?
My life has been forever changed by this project. I work with the most wonderful people and feel like I am making a difference every single day. The incredible support I have felt from my fellow UISG members, our campus partners, community members, campus faculty and staff, and my friends is remarkable. I knew I was passionate about making a positive impact on campus, and working on voter engagement has proven the best outlet for that passion. I was political before college, but I saw it as more of a side hobby. Now, I see civic engagement as a lifestyle, and I see this experience as very formative in shaping my goals and values. I want to empower and uplift the voices of those around me, and I see no better way than showing my peers that when we all get to the polls and vote, we make a resounding impact. In the future I will continue to work in politics so I can better the lives of those around me. I want to keep engaging in the tough conversations, and keep challenging the apathetic label so many are quick to throw on our generation. Young people care, and we care a lot. And we’re here to stay.
Serving in the University of Iowa Student Government and working on civic engagement has truly changed my life on campus and beyond. It has given me a channel to feel productive and impactful during my four years here in Iowa City. The most valuable skill I have gained throughout this process is the ability to share and achieve common goals. This will greatly benefit me as I enter the workforce, but most importantly, as I enter politics. I have learned this in so many ways through our efforts this year. We knew that voter registration wasn’t a Democratic issue or Republican issue, it is an American issue. It is the most fundamental right we have in the United States and UISG believes every student, on-campus or off-campus, in-state or out-of-state, deserves to exercise it. Fortunately, every partner we have reached out to believes the same thing. That’s why this year we were able to register students in the library and the CWRC. Over a dozen, political and apolitical student organizations also signed on to “Hawk The Vote” with us. These amazing collaborations have taught me that if I can boil any problem or subject down to what unites us, anything is possible. As far as my future goals, Hawk The Vote has only reaffirmed my desire to go into politics and do all the good I can, for all the people I can, for as long as I can.
Why should others get involved with this program?
Voting is one action every citizen can take to truly have a say in the policy decisions that impact our daily lives. Care about the environment? Vote. Care about healthcare? Vote. Care about the economy? Vote. Care about farmers? Vote. Care about education? Vote.
Everyone cares about something. Find what that thing is for you, and run with it. Learn what your legislators think about that issue or project you just can’t stop thinking about, and vote accordingly. Vote on your values, and vote in local, state, and federal elections. And vote in student government elections. Talk to us about that thing you care most about and help us find innovative solutions to the world’s toughest problems. It takes all of us staying engaged to make a difference...and if we can do that, nothing will stop us.