Wesleyan Engaged

Featured Image: Students involved with Wesleyan Engaged, manning the Popcorn and Polls event in 2022. Bethany Tsiaras | Courtesy

Wesleyan Engaged is a program at Virginia Wesleyan University, based out of The Lighthouse in Clarke Hall, committed to helping students get involved with their community and keeping them informed about events and volunteer opportunities. The program divides their focus on civic engagement, such as encouraging and making it easier for students to vote, and providing community outreach opportunities.

Regarding civic responsibilities, there are many non-partisan events hosted throughout the school year for students, staff and any other community members who might also be interested. These events are here, not to influence anyone’s political views or opinions, but simply to teach people about the importance of fulfilling their civic duty.

Director of Civic Engagement and Service Learning, Bethany Tsiaras, a prominent leader of these programs, expresses her concerns saying “people don’t realize how much they can positively impact their community and everyday lives by becoming informed and voting.”

Getting your vote out is an important aspect of the democratic system that many students neglect when weighed down by classes and homework. Wesleyan Engaged eases students’ individual efforts by assisting them in the registration process through hard-to-miss events. Students can get engaged in many ways, such as registering to vote at school or with their home address, early voting and getting help with absentee ballots.

“Voting is the greatest power of direct influence we are given in America, so make sure your voice is heard so you can make your impact,” Tsiaras said.

 Luckily, there are already a slew of events scheduled for this academic semester, to help with voter registration. American civic holidays like Constitution Day, National Voter Registration Day, National Voter Education Week, Vote Early Day, Election Hero Day and most importantly, Election Day, provide great opportunities to spread awareness.

From the start of school, all the way until Election Day–on the first Tuesday of November–Wesleyan Engaged outfits an informational table, in Batten, every week. This table provides a hotspot for students to passively gain the knowledge they need either on-site, through the QR code located there, or by setting up a meeting with someone like Tsiaras.

Additionally, special events are held during the aforementioned civic holidays. In celebration of Constitution Day, students will be able to “hang out” with the famous George Washington, pick up their own mini-Constitution, eat good food and participate in trivia for the chance to win some cool prizes and Marlin swag. This event will be outside the CMAC on Monday, Sept. 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m..

Another event coming up is the Virginia student voting summit, held at Norfolk State on Oct. 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This provides an opportunity to mingle with other students and to get involved off campus.

Voter registration week will be celebrated with Engaged hosting registering to vote, how to make a plan to vote, learning what’s on your ballot and giving more information on how you can get involved. Tsiaras heavily stresses the idea that “ballots are NOT quizzes.” Voters can do research now, or anytime, to familiarize themselves with names and motivations in order to make an informed decision.

If any student is interested in helping Wesleyan Engaged set up or host any of these great events, they can email Bethany Tsiaras or meet her at her office to learn more about joining. We hope to see you on Sept. 18 at the CMAC for lots of fun and information that will help students make an impact!


By Alex Pleasants