In preparation for the midterm elections, students and faculty from the Media and Communication Department and the Content Lab spent the last several weeks working to produce a video project sharing the voices of voters from across the campus.
Entitled “#WhySpartansVote,” the video made a statement about the importance of voting and having your voice heard.
The film premiered at the Lieutenant Governor forum at the Paramount Theatre on Oct. 19 and can currently be found on YouTube.
“I can tell students to vote all day. When students tell other students to vote, it means something. I think the peer-to-peer is far more powerful than anything the faculty can do,” said Political Science Department Program Coordinator Rich Clark.
The project is the first collaboration between the Media and Communication Department and the Content Lab — a partnership Content Lab co-advisors Bill DeForest, assistant professor of graphic design, and Sam Davis-Boyd, assistant professor of media and communication are hopeful to continue.
“We’ve never had the video people join us before,” senior and Content Lab President Richmond Rathbun said. “It is what we wanted to do with the content lab, a firm situation where we have the graphic design people and video people. And we want it to get other majors and other people involved with it as well. But it’s been interesting, visually, coming up with projects for them. And also making sure to find ways that we can overlap — making videos and then making graphics for those videos.”
Clark first suggested the idea for the project to the Content Lab following the success of two prior social media campaigns in the 2016 and 2020 elections.
DeForest said that after the 2020 election, there was an “unspoken agreement” that the project would come back around during midterms. As expected, he said that he and the students jumped at the chance to work on the project.
“With the presidential election in 2020, we saw a 26% increase in student voting on Castleton campus. But Rich warned us. He said the midterm elections are harder, they’re a harder sell. But he said they’re vital. And so, we took the challenge,” DeForest said. “Everybody felt it was important, and we wanted to continue the ‘Spartans Vote’ brand.”
DeForest added that, though the campaigns were all very different both visually and graphically, the sentiment of sharing why students vote and what it means to them remained the same.
Junior Will Smith, a nontraditional student who recently returned to Castleton to finish his education, was the student coordinator for the video filming and editing. He wanted to get involved with the project to encourage young voters to show up at the polls — especially considering how low voter turnout has been in recent years.
“I wish that more students made politics (a bigger) part of their life,” Smith said. “I’m included in the older generation (and) we’re starting to die out. We don’t always have the best answers for things and the young people, they need to get out there and let their voices be heard. That’s the only way that we’re going to affect change. If you look at like the ’60s and the hippie movement, the civil rights movement, that was the young people. And we not that we’ve lost that, but there’s definitely a part of that’s missing as I’ve seen. I would love to see a resurgence of that.”
Clark also highlighted this need to see young voters get more involved, adding that part of the reason young people don’t vote at the same rate as older generations is because they don’t see themselves represented at the voting booth.
“I volunteer to work at my polls every election and, quite often, I am the youngest person among the volunteers,” Clark said. “Imagine a college-aged student walking in — they must feel like they don’t belong. Part of the idea of making young voters is creating a space where they belong and hearing it from others. Tell people that, ‘I vote, I’m going to be there.’ It creates more of a sense of, ‘Hey, maybe this is a place that isn’t unwelcoming for me. Maybe it is a place where I belong.’”
Clark, DeForest and Davis-Boyd all applauded the work put in by the students who helped create this project.
“Ultimately, I hope that this starts conversations of why it’s so important that we pay attention to what’s going on in the world around us, especially when talking or when looking at what’s going on in government, locally and nationally. And that this is just a stepping stone for having those conversations on why we should be voting,” David-Boyd said.