Wesleyan students have responded to the results of the 2016 Presidential Election in a variety of ways, including marches, protests, conversations, and more. Two students, Jacob Karlin ’17 and Olivia Morris ’18, looking to take direct action, headed up the #CallToAction phone bank at Wes. The goal is to bring different issues to the attention of state representatives, which will in turn hopefully influence policies over the next four years. This type of grassroots work meshes well with the mission of the Allbritton Center, and we were eager to learn about the motivation behind and the success of the #CallToAction phone bank from Jacob and Olivia.
Read on to learn what exactly #CallToAction was up to last semester, as well as ways to get involved this coming semester.
What is the #CallToAction?
#CallToAction is a weekly phone bank aiming to mobilize people to start dialogue with state representatives. Each week’s phone bank covers a specific topic. We provide information sheets, scripts focusing on the chosen issue, and representative’s phone numbers in Usdan 108. Our goal is to influence policy at the state level. We believe we will have the most success there in protecting our civil liberties on issues such as climate change, Immigration reform, reproductive health, police brutality, gun control, voter rights, LGBTQ+ rights, Obamacare, Muslim registration, Flint, etc. By facilitating dialogue with our representatives, we hope that #CallToAction will demonstrate the power of voices to create change.
How did you get together/get organized to start the phone bank? How do you find representatives’ contact information?
Olivia Morris ‘18 and I began to organize in the days following the election. We held interest meetings and information sessions to gather more interested students into various task forces. We were able to locate the information online.
Have you had any really exciting moments/successes?
We are amazed by the amount of time and energy our coordinators and Wesleyan student body have given to this campaign. The phone banks from the fall semester were extremely successful. Each successive phone bank has garnered a bigger crowd. Now, we are working to get other schools involved in hosting their own #CallToAction phone banks.
What’s the hardest part about calling representatives?
It is surprisingly easy! The hardest part is getting started. You talk to staffers who work in the representative’s office when calling; they are usually willing to listen to your concerns and direct them to their representative.
Do you feel like you are making an impact?
We are engaging Wesleyan students in participatory democracy, which impacts both their understanding of themselves as constituents and the representatives who must listen to the concerns of their constituency. While this is critical, the coordinators have discussed new ways to make #CallToAction even more successful/impactful, such as working more directly with the Connecticut government.
Are there ways for interested students to get involved in the spring semester?
Keep coming to our phone banks! We will have them every week this spring semester in Usdan during lunch. Day of the week TBD.
- If students want to take a more active role in #CallToAction, we always need people behind the scenes to make each phone bank possible (research, graphic design, communications). Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to get more involved.
To read more about #CalltoAction, check out this article by The Argus.