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Civics workshop fosters active citizens

Students+attend+a+workshop+on+Thursday%2C+where+hosts+explained+how+to+engage+in+the+local+community.
Students attend a workshop on Thursday, where hosts explained how to engage in the local community.

Students attend a workshop on Thursday, where hosts explained how to engage in the local community.

Students attend a workshop on Thursday, where hosts explained how to engage in the local community.

DANIELLE CHIRIGUAYO | Evergreen reporter

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More than 40 students and community members attended a Civics 101 workshop aimed at teaching effective methods to contact government officials on Thursday evening.

“This is how to get your voice heard outside of that one-time vote,” said Johnna Lash, host of the workshop.

Focusing primarily on the changes community members can affect directly, hosts of the workshop taught attendees how to contact their local, state and federal elected representatives.

Lash, who works with the Whitman County Democrats, explained how important it is for citizens to get involved and contact their respective government officials.

“A lot of pieces of legislation directly impact everyone on this campus,” she said. “Every person needs to be better-educated on these issues and how to address them.”

Representatives from the Young Democrats of WSU, Whitman County Democrats, Palouse Proactive and the Green Party were present at the workshop.

The hosts discussed the most successful methods to contact representatives, such as making phone calls and writing letters. They also addressed voter registration and how to file for a state ballot initiative or referendum.

Through the Secretary of State’s office, Washington residents can file to create an initiative or referendum, and if their petition gains enough signatures, it can be introduced onto the ballot, said Collin Parks, Green Party representative.

In groups of two, attendees had the opportunity to work on a hypothetical task and practice making phone calls or writing letters to representatives.

WSU Young Democrats President Gavin Pielow discussed other potential ways of getting involved in the community, including attending town hall events, engaging with local newspapers and radio stations, or joining an organization such as the Young Democrats or the College Republicans.

“(Getting involved) is an opportunity to not just write a letter and throw it away,” Pielow said.

Lash said she hopes to continue helping educate community members by creating a series of similar workshops that will be available to the general public.

“We need to grow the voice of our shared community,” she said.

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Civics workshop fosters active citizens