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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TAPP event promotes student engagement in politics

TAPP wants to ensure students are politically engaged during nonelection season.

Oct. 18, 2013

Nearly 40 people attended “Representation Stations,” a civic engagement event hosted by Tigers Against Partisan Politics and the Associated Students of the University of Missouri at the MU Student Center on Thursday night.

Participants visited various stations designed to politically engage students. To encourage maximum participation, TAPP provided free T-shirts and pizza to students who visited all of the stations.

The first station that drew people in was the education station.

At this station, a large TV screen presented a diagram detailing the process of passing a bill at the state level and the various functions of different parts in the Missouri General Assembly. A TAPP representative explained the diagram to visitors and answered audience questions.

“It was actually really interesting,” sophomore Emily Graves-Swinney said. “I learned that the state Senate can do what is called a ‘Senate substitution,’ which wipes out whatever the House passes and puts something totally new in. I didn’t know about that before.”

Graduate student Kristin Harper said she learned about current political events at the education station.

“I thought it was good and helpful,” Harper said. “One of the guys at the table explained to me what the whole government shutdown situation was about.”

Visitors were also given a list of different news agencies TAPP recommends for political news, such as Politico, The New York Times and Associated Press.

The communication station focused on ways to contact politicians regarding public policy issues and concerns.

TAPP officers at the table provided guides to writing a “well-reasoned personal letter” to elected officials. The guides provide tips on formatting the letter to effectively voice the author’s opinion about specific problems or legislation.

“I think a lot of people want to talk to Congress members and tell them how they feel, but they just don’t know how to go about doing it,” said senior Katie Corey, one student in attendance.

Participants were also given contact information for Missouri politicians, including Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Gov. Jay Nixon, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.). A laptop and tablet were available to those who wished to follow politicians through social media.

There was also a station dedicated to helping students register to vote.

The participation station, situated in the middle of the room, featured bracelets, stickers and hand towels that said “Stand Up for Mizzou” with the purpose of promoting student involvement in politics.

The Mizzou Democrats had a presence at the participation station to present ways to get involved in politics and promoted the club’s future events, such as “Let’s Talk: Women’s Rights.”

Corey, a member of College Democrats, discussed the benefit of political organizations getting involved with nonpartisan organizations like TAPP.

“I think it’s a good way to get people focused on the task at hand, especially because a lot of the times people get too wrapped up in the politics,” Corey said. “If you go to school here and if you want to fix problems that we have here regardless of your political party, an organization like this is good.”

MU College Republicans were unable to make an appearance because of a different project they are working on.

“We’re sorry we were unable to attend,” said Phillip Arnzen, the chairman of College Republicans. “The College Republicans appreciate all the hard work TAPP does for Mizzou.”

TAPP Co-President Garrett Poorman discussed the purpose of hosting events like “Representation Stations.”

“We wanted to give students an opportunity to see different ways to they can be politically involved,” Poorman said. “We wanted to host it now because it is not an election season. Sometimes students tend to fall between cracks as far as politics go between election seasons, so it is important to maintain involvement even though you can’t vote that year.”

Camille Hosman, TAPP’s other co-president, explained why civic engagement is important for students.

“In my opinion, to be civically engaged is to care about what’s going on,” Hosman said. “I think it’s beneficial to Mizzou students because they can voice a concern they see in the community.”

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