The Iowa Caucuses are coming up on February 3rd! To learn how you can have a say in choosing the next President of the United States, we sat down with Joseph Verry, Hawk the Vote’s Strategic Assessment Manager!
Hometown: Coralville, Iowa
Year in school: Second year
Major: Biomedical engineering on the pre-medicine track
What organizations are you involved in on campus?
I am a member of Hawk the Vote on campus, a nonpartisan student initiative with the mission to increase student participation in elections in Iowa. This includes everything from UISG elections and local Iowa City elections to the Iowa caucuses and presidential elections. We try to increase awareness of the democratic process and how students can get more involved in elections. I am also involved in the University of Iowa Student Government as an at-large senator, the Engineering Student Council, and volunteer through the UI mobile clinic.
How did you get involved in these organizations? What drew you to them?
I tried to be involved in a number of different organizations in high school, but it was hard to fit everything into my schedule and I knew that college academics would be even more rigorous. I was passionate about getting involved in organizations with which I knew I could make a difference, and one of the first ones I applied to during my freshman year was UISG. Even though it was the only organization I was involved with at the time, I think it was probably the best thing I could have joined as a first year. Being a member of such a diverse group of student leaders allowed me to meet individuals from all across the university, who would then go on to introduce me to other ways in which I could advocate for students on campus. One of these organizations that really drew me in was Hawk the Vote.
How has serving in these organizations furthered your professional or personal goals?
There is a great social aspect to being involved in most organizations on campus, and the ones I am involved in are no exception. I enjoy getting to know people and talk with them and building connections with students on campus has been a great privilege as I work to further student advocacy. This includes everything from supporting first-generation students and helping them find a home on campus to working with other student leaders in UISG
How can students get involved in Hawk the Vote?
This is Hawk the Vote’s first year as an independent unit, as it previously served as an outreach branch of UISG. Currently, our plan is to create a new executive council at the end of the spring semester. Individuals who are interested in coordinating volunteers, planning events, creating marketing materials or reaching out to campaigns could apply for an executive position, but we also have an onboarding process for volunteers who are interested in registering voters sporadically throughout the year. Follow our social media accounts to learn when these occur!
What is the purpose of the Iowa Caucuses?
The Iowa Caucuses are a unique, first-in-the-nation chance for people to have a democratic say in who will be elected president. It is not just filling out a ballot- it is a lively debate about your specific vision of the future. Students can participate if they are eligible to vote in November. For more information regarding caucus locations and times, please visit https://vote.uiowa.edu/2020-caucuses/2020-caucus/
What advice would you have for a student looking to get more involved in civic engagement, but unsure of where to start?
Don’t try to do everything alone! Find a friend or mentor who is equally passionate about civic engagement and keep each other accountable. There are also events on campus put on by organizations such as the lecture committee, UISG, or the city of Iowa City that relate to civic engagement and attending these events will allow you to connect with individuals who are similarly engaged.
What has been your favorite or most proud memory of being involved with Hawk the Vote?
It has been so great that I have been able to see the quick and successful transition Hawk the Vote has had from a part of UISG to its own independent entity. The current executive committee members have worked so well together, and we a very tightknit group who take great joy in what we do! I look forward to seeing what else we, and future executive boards, can accomplish!