Hilltop Views Students’ Agenda promotes larger voter turnout for 2020 elections

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Nina Martinez

Hilltopper’s Vote promotes 2020 election coverage in the newsroom. The coverage will focus on what the St. Edward’s community looks for in candidates.

In July, Hilltop Views editors joined a cohort of journalists across the U.S. with Hearken Inc. and the American Press Institute to provide a voting strategy for the St. Edward’s community. The five-week training prepared the student journalists on how to report on the upcoming election season.

NYU professor and journalist Jay Rosen made a guest appearance during the remote training to explain The Citizen’s Agenda, a strategy he developed which is used in many newsrooms. Hilltop Views geared the agenda toward its student community, now labeled The Students’ Agenda. This reporting strategy aims to narrow the focus of our coverage to the interests of the community, create a strong feedback loop with our audience, cover all angles of the election cycle and implement varying perspectives while upholding reporting values and ethics throughout the process. 

Hilltop Views election coverage, or Hilltoppers Vote, consists of listening to the St. Edward’s community to determine what issues are most important to them when electing a candidate. Unlike big-name televised election coverage, the student publication will not be reporting on political candidate gossip that fails to inform the public on how candidates will improve their community. 

Aug. 26 marked the first day the Hilltoppers Vote Student Agenda survey was posted. With one week left to collect responses, the survey aims to listen to the students’ voices as the first step to the strategy. The second step involves collecting data to understand the issues the community cares about most and registering students to vote.

In an initiative to inform students who need guidance registering and voting, Hilltop Views has paired up with non-partisan organization Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG). TexPIRG intern and St. Edward’s sophomore Ethan Tobias is working with the StudentPIRG New Voters Project to register more young voters in Texas.

“Young people make up the largest and most diverse group of potential voters in the country, with our own values, ideas and issues that we care about. That means we can make a big impact in the November election, but only if we vote,” Tobias says. “TexPIRG is a non-partisan organization that works to protect the environment, public health and promote civic engagement.”

Thus far in our survey, 35% of our responses show that the 2020 election will be their first to vote. A recent poll by Tufts shows that 83% of young people believe they have the power to change the country. By pairing up with TexPIRG and StudentPIRG New Voters Project works, the St. Edward’s population also has the power to change their communities for the better. “StudentPIRG New Voters Project has worked to rally youth turnout, help facilitate voter registration and foster peer-to-peer contact to stay civically engaged,” Tobias said. 

Tobias encourages students to register to vote. For those who are registered, the source offers tips for voting as a student.