XU political dialogue initiative to launch ambassador program this semester
By justin Malone, Staff Writer
The Take It On initiative is supporting a new student ambassador program that is expected to launch later this semester. Take It On leaders hope the program will allow students to lead or partake in political discourse with their peers.
Established in 2019, Take It On is a nonpartisan initiative that aims to engage the campus community and facilitate political discussion. This ambassador program signifies one step toward increasing student involvement in these challenging conversations.
The program is designed to give students the opportunity to lead others in civil dialogue about political issues and concerns. It also aims to educate students on controversial problems that affect present-day society. The hope is that this program will enable students to find new and improved ways to talk about controversial topics outside of a partisan context. The ambassador program is meant to help students take more ownership in these experiences while also gaining leadership skills.
“There’s definitely an interest in students who want to take those experiences and then bring them to other parts of campus,” Dr. Mack Mariani, the newly-appointed Take It On director and professor of political science, said.
“Whether it’s in the dorm rooms, club rooms or locker rooms, students who can thoughtfully engage in these issues will be in a better position to participate in conversations, facilitate conversations and to encourage others to do the same,” Mariani added.
He believes that the program will also benefit non-ambassadors who can practice civil ways to encounter difficult topics through the program.
Additionally, Take It On hopes to increase voter participation and help students create a voting plan, especially for those who reside outside of Cincinnati. Ambassadors can help students talk about voting or find ways to participate in elections in other ways, such as working at polling centers, volunteering with campaigns or engaging with politics through social media.
They could also inform students about candidates on the ballot for local, state and national elections.
The ambassador program, which is currently in the developmental stages, is hosting a focus group session to explore student perspectives and interest areas. It will describe the program, set qualifications for ambassadors and crowdsource ways to effectively talk about various political issues. The focus group session will give Take It On the tools to plan and hopefully implement the program, while picturing what the program could look like past the planning stage.
With the upcoming congressional election in November, Mariani envisions the ambassador program will not only help students make informed voting decisions, but also encourage students to think about major political problems.
“There’s a lot of important questions that people are going to be deciding, not just in November, but all the time there are issues that come up where people should be engaged and participating,” he said.
“We want to provide engagement opportunities for people to talk about issues outside of a partisan context… Our goal is to build a community that takes politics and public policy seriously and tries to do it well,” he added.
Any student who wishes to participate in the focus group should reach out to Mariani via email.