Civic Engagement Committee holds Zoom forum


Emily Rubino, Contributing Writer

Tulane University’s Civic Engagement Committee held a Zoom forum in which four panelists spoke about civic engagement in New Orleans. The meeting was led by Committee Director Olivia Mullaney and Assistant Director Paul Yermish. 

The forum began with a presentation about how to register to vote for the upcoming election in November and continued with questions about civic engagement, comments on the need for increased female leadership and more discussions about the presidential election. 

“When I was interviewing for this position in April or May, this was kind of the idea that I ran on, and this was the idea that sparked my interest in this position, and what I talked a lot about in my interviews were to have some sort of Student Engagement Civic Forum and share important election information and to have a panelist talk about their personal experience and their insights,” Mullaney said. “So the idea was really born almost six months ago, and I have been thinking about it and working on it since, so it was really exciting to see it come to light.”

The panelists who spoke at the event were Aimee Freeman, Anna Mahoney, Brian Brox and Katherine “Kat” Walden. Freeman holds office in the Louisiana State House as the representative for District 98, where Tulane is located. Mahoney and Brox are professors at Tulane University who have taught multiple political science classes and Walden leads the non-profit organization, Power Coalition. 

All four spoke about their past experiences with civic engagement throughout their careers. One question asked to the panelists was, “What do you define as civic engagement to you personally?” 

“Understanding not only the political process, but how much power communities have,” Walden said. 

“Many other ways become involved in the community, such as shopping at local businesses beyond things such as lobbying,” Brox said.

Another question asked at the forum was, “Can you describe the importance of having female leadership in the state and national level?”

“When people who see people who look like them, then they think that their voice matters more,” Mahoney said. 

Freeman says from her experience in office being a woman “can be exhausting because you have to play the game as it’s played to get through. Not because of COVID, but a lot of biting your tongue. [You] need to have ultimate goal in mind.”

When picking panelists for this forum, Mullaney said she was interested in having a person who was elected to office, professors who are experts in this topic and a nonprofit organization representative. 

“We have had a ton of positive feedback,” Mullaney said. “I have received so many texts and emails just telling me about how much they enjoyed the event and how incredible the speakers were, how informative the information in the presentation that I gave in the beginning as well as the information that the speaker said, and it will hopefully be just a continuous push and it will keep getting people excited and engaged.”

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