The Omicron Lambda chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha respectfully requests $600 to help fund programming on voting rights in the spring semester of 2015. Programming will be divided into two events: the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Teach-In and a speaker series event. Pi Sigma Alpha will partner with the Illinois Wesleyan University Department of Political Science to execute the programming. The theme of voting rights is especially timely, as 2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Teach-In on January 19, 2015 will commence the programming. This event will raise awareness and educate the campus population on the issue of voting rights. Every year, Illinois Wesleyan hosts the Teach-In to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. The Teach-In consists of three programs all focused on a specific social justice theme. This year, the theme is voting rights, and the event will be held from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at the Illinois Wesleyan Hansen Student Center. The Department of Political Science will co-sponsor two speakers for the event. The first speaker is an emeritus professor and historian. He will give the keynote speech on the Voting Rights Act at 1:00pm and provide a broad overview of the Civil Rights Movement. The second speaker is the communications officer from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. At 2:00pm, he will discuss the Shelby County v. Holder (2013) case and offer a legal perspective. At 3:00pm, a Pi Sigma Alpha organized student debate will occur. Two College Democrats members and two College Republicans members will engage in a partisan debate on voting rights and voter fraud. This will provide a student-focused component to the Teach-In.
The second part of the programming is a voting rights speaker series event coordinated by Pi Sigma Alpha and the Department of Political Science at Illinois Wesleyan. Two political scientists will visit campus and give lectures on voting rights from the political context. This event will occur on Wednesday in the first week of March 2015. At 11:00am, one of the speakers will give his or her lecture. The two speakers will then visit and talk with classes from various academic departments in the afternoon. At 4:00pm, the second speaker will give his or her lecture. Following the lecture, a small dinner (10 people) with the two speakers will occur. In addition to the speakers, four Illinois Wesleyan political science professors and four Pi Sigma Alpha students will attend the dinner. One of the speakers will be Professor James Glaser from Tufts University, who will discuss the Voting Rights Act in the party system context. The Department of Political Science is currently in contact with Dr. Glaser and is in the process of working out exact details with him. After Dr. Glaser is officially confirmed, the Department will contact policy analyst Richard Shearer. Shearer will discuss voting rights in the context of the policy system. The lecture will explain how policies work and how they are implemented. Overall, this event will provide a conclusion to the voting rights programming. It will continue and build off of what was started at the Teach-In. While the Teach-In features a historian and a lawyer, the speaker series will provide the necessary political science perspective. It will show different parts of the discipline (the policy aspect and the party system aspect) and how they treat the same issue of voting rights.
The Omicron Lambda chapter is requesting $600 to help pay for the speaker series event. $300 (two speakers at $150 each) will be devoted to paying for the two speakers. $150 will help pay for travel expenses for the two speakers. Dr. Glaser will be coming from Tufts University in Massachusetts, which is a considerable distance away from Illinois Wesleyan. The final $150 (dinner for 10 people at $15 each) will pay for dinner with the two speakers. The Department of Political Science at Illinois Wesleyan has agreed to use special funds from an endowed professorship to support the remaining cost of the event. Furthermore, the Teach-In event is already fully funded and does not require grant assistance.