Democracy Day returns to campus for third consecutive year

Nov. 6, 2023, 1:09 a.m.

This Tuesday will mark Stanford’s third annual Democracy Day, a joint venture between the Haas Center for Public Service, Office of the President, Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) and Stanford in Government. The campus-wide holiday gives students the day off to vote in U.S. elections and attend events in an effort to increase civic engagement.

This year’s programming has grown beyond previous iterations, according to Liana Keesing, the Democracy Day chair, as the team seeks to expand beyond Election Day itself by hosting events through the week leading up to Nov. 7. Last week saw a lecture series by Harvard philosophy professor Tommie Shelby, film screenings and a democracy-focused Shabbat dinner, along with speaker events from experts in national and international politics.

According to Keesing, the 12 students on the Democracy Day organizing team made a conscious effort to incorporate a range of campus groups outside of those traditionally considered linked to politics. 

We “reached out to every STEM department on campus and offered to work with them and help them plan programming,” Keesing said, adding that this effort allowed the team to collaborate with departments such as the science, technology and society and data science departments to include STEM-focused events in this year’s schedule.

Events will pick up on Monday and Tuesday. Monday’s programming includes four speakers and two movie screenings, and will end with a Rock the Vote concert. Keesing said the concert is part of a larger effort to provide more celebratory events, including the improvised theater show that will also be offered. 

“There are things that are difficult and hard, and we don’t want to be taking away from the seriousness of those things,” Keesing said. Keesing said she hoped students feel excited and to “feel as though they’re part of something and to make it feel celebratory to some extent.”

On Tuesday, nearly 20 events will run from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., many of them taking place in Old Union. Events range from a panel of experts speaking on Ukraine’s current state of affairs to an artistic exhibit entitled “Design for Democracy,” aiming to give students the opportunity to engage with different aspects of democracy and political participation.

The program’s keynote speaker event will feature Arizona’s Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates in the Old Union Courtyard on Tuesday. Gates will speak about his experiences in politics, including his decision to cross partisan lines in refuting misinformation about the 2020 presidential election. 

Democracy Day will close out with the Dine & Dialogue event, which gives students and faculty an opportunity to discuss democratic politics with one another over dinner. According to Keesing, this final event, which will take place in the Tresidder Oak Lounge, has historically been a student favorite and is set to be larger than previous years.

Ellen Kim is a writer for the News section. Contact them at news 'at'

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