Students, faculty, and the greater Oxford community spent the beginning of the week preparing and spreading awareness for Tuesday’s pivotal General Election midterms.
Midterm Mania began with the annual debate between the Young Democrats and the College Republicans hosted by the Few Debate Society on Monday night. Among the contentious topics debated was the future of ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency) and whether it should be abolished.
The crowd was filled with many passionate people from campus and the surrounding community. As the debate escalated, audience members began to interject their own thoughts, making for a more lively forum. The night ended with both sides summarizing their opposing views on the legitimacy of ICE and reminding the audience to perform their civic duties in the midterms on Tuesday.
Tuesday morning was filled with different students and faculty offering their cars to shuttle students to the nearest polling location and a flood of selfies of students, with a Georgia peach sticker on their chest, on every social media platform. Dr. Tarver and Dr. Mousie also held various group walks to the polls to provide students with ample opportunity to go and vote. While many students physically went to the Newton County polling stations, most performed their civic duties through absentee voting in their home states and participating in early voting in the weeks prior.
To celebrate Oxford students participating in their first midterm election, and a vast majority of students first time voting, Professor Mary Shiraef hosted a celebration party in the library Tuesday night. Students gathered to watch as early results began to fill in and discuss the different races and their individual predictions. Many other faculty members stopped by to join in the celebration including Dr. Mousie and Dean Moon. Students enjoyed homemade snacks while checking the results.
As the polls began reporting, students around campus hosted various viewing parties to preview what the next two years would look like. Both the Young Democrats and College Republicans hosted viewing parties in the Rathskeller and in the library, respectively. Other students could be found huddling in lounges, sharing TVs and laptops to see their home states’ turnout. With mixed results coming in and a few shocking seat shakeups, uncertainty abound with many.
To help address any lingering “midterm hangover” students might have felt on Wednesday morning, the ReVision club and the Women and Gender Studies Department hosted a teach-in where professors were invited to come and speak to the students about what’s next. A range of different academic disciplines were represented, as the professors shared their insights on what the midterms will mean while focusing on a theme of hopefulness.
Professor Mary Shiraef, a visiting political science professor, summed up the effects of the midterm on the Oxford students. “Despite the mixed results of the midterm elections themselves, I was actually very inspired by my students’ participation in the midterms. Most of my students voted for their very first time. And several of my students even volunteered, for instance, including canvassing for candidates in Georgia, transporting people to the polls on election day, working at the local polling stations, hosting results watching parties and hosting events for responses to the results,” Shiraef said.
The midterms brought excitement to the Oxford community as many students were able to experience their first time voting and fully participating in the democratic process. “Involvement among young people in the midterms was up by 188 percent from the 2014 elections; and from my experience, I could see that Oxford students in particular were playing an active role in increasing voter turnout among the youth.” Sheriff added speaking about the greater impact of the midterms on both the Oxford community and the greater United States.