At Middlesex Community College, civic engagement and voter education have become focal points for developing students into responsible citizens. For that reason, the College chose “voter participation” as it theme for the fifth annual legislative breakfast, held on campus Tuesday.
At the breakfast event, Dr. Steven Minkler, MxCC dean of academic affairs, welcomed attendees who included Senator Dante Bartolomeo (D-13th District), Senator Paul Doyle (D-9th District), Senator Paul Formica (R-20th District), Representative Matt Lesser (D-100th District), Representative Jesse MacLachlan (R-35th District), Representative Phil Miller (D-36th District), and Representative Joe Serra (D-33rd District). Others in attendance included members of Connecticut’s Board of Regents for Higher Education, MxCC Foundation members, members of the College’s Regional Advisory Council, MxCC faculty, staff and students, and other supporters of the College.
Sen. Bartolomeo delivered the keynote speech and remarked on how residents can and should make their voices heard on the different issues being addressed during this session of the Connecticut General Assembly. She talked about her own efforts as a community organizer through her local board of education and through her support of universal healthcare, which affected political outcomes in our state. She talked about how residents can learn about the different bills up for vote in the Assembly, and strongly encouraged them to call, email, or meet with representatives in person.
“As elected officials, we want to hear from our constituents, and we listen to them in so many different ways,” Sen. Bartolomeo said. “However, it is up to voters to reach out to officials, voice their opinions on issues they care about, and vote – which, of course, is the ultimate way to speak up.”
In Connecticut, only 55.6 percent of eligible residents turned out to vote in 2014, according to the Connecticut Secretary of the State’s office. A 2012 survey of MxCC students by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement reported a 44.9 percent voting rate.
“We want to improve the voting rate here on campus so students become lifelong voters and participants in our democracy,” explained Judith Felton, MxCC professor of human services. “We created MxCC’s new Center for Civic Engagement to help educate our student population about issues that affect the way we live and the importance of voting in all elections. By attending today’s event, our legislators showed students that elected officials care about what we do here, and that student voices do matter.”