Use Your Voice

A total of 43 Bradley students registered to vote during Engaged, a rally at the Renaissance Coliseum to inspire civil engagement and civility in politics.

By Frank Radosevich II
October 5, 2012

Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon told a gathered group of Bradley students that democracy is not like cooking. Whereas too many chefs can spoil the broth, for the democratic process it’s the more the merrier.

Speaking at Engaged, a campus rally to inspire civic engagement among students, the lieutenant governor said democracy was not a remote, complex system of government but a community that everyone could and should be involved with.

“You can really have a big influence so take advantage of that,” Simon said at the event in Bradley’s Renaissance Coliseum. “Use your voices; it’s terribly easy to do.”

And with that, Simon used her own voice, this time to belt out a couple of songs with her blues band Loose Gravel.

The Engaged rally — sponsored in part by the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service, Illinois League of Women Voters, College Democrats and College Republicans — captured the interest of Bradley students and helped them take the next step toward political involvement by registering them to vote. Members from the League of Women Voters signed up 43 students to vote this fall.

“The most important thing you can do is make sure you are registered to vote before leaving here today,” said Brad McMillan, executive director for the Institute. He said the Institute for Principled Leadership has hosted other get-out-the-vote events in the past but that this year’s rally was the largest so far and featured a healthy mix of entertainment.

“The thing to take away here is that politics can be fun,” he said.

Besides the lieutenant governor and her band members, the rally featured two Bradley faculty bands performing and On the Rocks, the University’s male a cappella group. Student Body President Alan Bukingolts and students Jacoby Cochran, Brooke Stevenson and Camille Ivy-O'Donnell also addressed the crowd.

The night’s speakers urged the students to do more than just vote. They told students to pick an issue close to their hearts and get involved. Ryan Spain, an at-large Peoria City Councilman and the youngest member of the council, recalled how he wanted to work in the community and eventually went door-to-door running for City Council. He told the audience to become active in their community now since the changes made at their young age would echo throughout the days to come.

“The decisions that we make will follow you for many years,” he said.