F&M Stories

Election Season at F&M

When Franklin & Marshall junior Liz Joslin began interning for Josh Shapiro, she never expected to go viral on TikTok alongside Pennsylvania's Governor.

The video — a clever take on a "slay or nay" trend — was just one of many ways the government major and music performance minor helped assist Shapiro's gubernatorial campaign.

"I really feel like I was actually able to learn skills and make a difference — I was sending out releases that 600 press contacts would read," said Joslin, of Havertown, Pa.

Like Joslin, "Generation Z" is breathing a new kind of life into campaign work — and young voter turnout indicates that it's working.

That civic fervor is amplified on campus thanks to the efforts of F&M Votes, a nonpartisan coalition of students, faculty and staff engaged in voter registration, education and motivation activities.

This fall, F&M Votes registered more than 300 students, and at least 600 showed up to vote on Nov. 8. In 2020, 90.8% of eligible F&M students were registered to vote and 88.6% of those registered students cast a ballot (either in the College's district or their home), reports Tufts University's National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement.

"F&M Votes is one of the leading organizations of its kind in the country," said staff chair Jessica Haile, assistant dean for international student service.

Franklin & Marshall's proximity to downtown Lancaster drives more students toward local activism, policy and politics.

"Local elections impact students as much, if not more, than national elections. This is their state, and community, for nine months of the year," Haile said.

Roughly 27% of people ages 18 to 29 (those on the Gen Z-Millennial cusp) cast ballots in 2022, reports Tufts. The November midterm election had the second-highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades.

'Campaign Work is Very Young'

Joslin's first taste of politics was "coming of age in the 2016 election — that definitely sparked a lot of interest for me," she said.

She quickly dipped her toes in campus government as F&M Votes student co-chair and Diplomatic Congress parliamentarian. A talented vocalist, Joslin is the incoming president of The Poor Richards a cappella ensemble.

Hard work merged with luck when Joslin met Akbar Hossain '13, F&M alumnus and current trustee. Hossain was recently named the executive director of the Shapiro transition team and served as the policy director for the governor-elect's gubernatorial campaign.

Last week, F&M president Barbara Altmann was named to the higher education committee for the Shapiro transition.

"[Hossain] connected me to a bunch of different people in the campaign," Joslin said. That led to a communications internship in summer and fall.

"When I was a tour guide this summer, I would give my whole spiel about the True Blue network and the alumni connections. But I was able to say to people, 'The current internship that I am doing would not have been possible if not for an F&M alum,'" she said.

Joslin quickly made an impact on the campaign team.

"Campaign work is very young. My supervisors were not that far apart in age from me. They were willing to trust me and give me a very meaningful experience and help me learn," Joslin said.

The haze of election season has settled, but Joslin's work with F&M Votes continues.

"If students want to feel like they're doing something for more than themselves — something that goes beyond F&M, goes beyond our campus — F&M Votes can make measurable change," she said.


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