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VCU Campus Ministry Invites Students to Discuss Politics Ahead of Super Tuesday

Pace Center
VCU's Pace Center Director Katie Gooch encourages students to go up to the microphone and share what issues are motivating them to vote in the presidential primaries. (Photo Credit: Alan Rodriguez Espinoza/VPM)

VPM News Intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reported this story. 

The United Methodist ministry at Virginia Commonwealth University, the Pace Center, held its first “presidential pregame” Monday night to motivate students to vote in the Super Tuesday primary elections. 

Katie Gooch, the director at the Pace Center, says the event was meant to be a conversation, not a debate.

“People aren’t learning from one another. They’re just talking over each other. And we feel like when you share stories, you actually learn and you grow as a person,” Gooch said.

In the past, students were considered unreliable voters, but in recent years turnout has surged. Nearly 15,000 students have already cast absentee ballots ahead of Super Tuesday, according to the Virginia Dept. of Elections. 

Representatives for several campaigns were on hand to answer students’ questions on the environment, guns and other ballot issues. Lauren Garcia, a volunteer for “Students for Bernie” at VCU, says climate change is a big priority for many young voters.

“Everybody has a reason why politics is important for them, and hearing that from students is important,” Garcia said. “We’re often overlooked as a voting group. We’re not considered likely voters.”

Audrey Ampomah, a VCU psychology student, says it’s especially important for young voters of color to participate in elections.

“A lot of my ancestors fought for this right for us to have and we’re just sitting here squandering it,” Ampomah said. “We complain on social media but then we don’t go to the polls. I think it’s very important for us to start getting in the habit of that because once we get to middle age, we are gonna be the example for our kids.”

Gooch says the Pace Center hopes to hold similar events for future local elections such as the upcoming mayoral race in Richmond. 

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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