Concert seeks to encourage voting

Discussions through social media have inspired faculty and students at Baldwin Wallace to team up in order to raise awareness for student-voter registration.

On Friday, Sept. 28 at 9 p.m., a concert event entitled “My Vote, My Voice” will be held on campus in Fynette Kulas Hall in the Boesel Musical Arts Center located on Seminary Street.

The concert will feature volunteer performances from the bands Front Porch—including Dr. Beth Hiser, chair for the Academic Studies Department and professor of music theory—Young Steve—made up of BW seniors John Bukovac, Max Hanks, Brice Jackson, and Sean Donovan—and Gypsy Radio Project—featuring Dr. Brenden Caldwell, director of wind ensembles and associate professor of conducting.

In addition to performances from these three bands, local ice cream chain Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream will cater the event, offering free ice cream to those who register to vote at the event, or are already registered voters. Additional sponsors of the event include Mike’s Bar & Grille, The Shoppe, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Le Crepe Café, and Café Aroma. Free raffles for gift cards to several local businesses will also take place during the concert.

Dr. Zarina Melik-Stepanova, lecturer in keyboard, began discussions for the concert following a Facebook post she saw from Danielle Ott, office manager for Conservatory Admissions, this past July regarding the 100 days left until voting day.

“I reminisce to the last election,” said Melik-Stepanova. “The day after the election […] when I asked [my students] how many of them ended up voting, so few of them [had]. It’s our civic duty to vote and be involved in politics.”

According to her, it was at this point that Dr. Danielle Kuntz, assistant professor of music history and Riemenschneider Bach Institute scholar-in-residence, informed both Ott Lykins and Melik-Stepanova that Mu Phi Epsilon, a co-ed international professional music fraternity for which Kuntz serves as advisor, was interested in participating in a community outreach program.

Destinee Siebe, senior music history and literature major, acts as the service chair for Mu Phi Epsilon and took part in the planning committee for the event.

“The point of the concert,” Siebe said, “is to celebrate our free ability to vote and express ourselves. All three [bands] are very different genres of music and they’re all going to be expressing themselves, just like we all have the right to express ourselves on our ballot.”

My Vote, My Voice is run through a partnership between Mu Phi Epsilon and Jackets Engaged, an organization dedicated to BW student-voter registration run through the David and Frances Brain Center for Community Engagement, she said.

But the partnership between these organizations does not end at the concert.

“Both in the Conservatory and in the Union we have been hosting tables for people to register to vote or check their registration,” said Siebe.

Melik-Stepanova and Siebe said that such registration events have taken place since the first Tuesday in Sept. and will continue every Tuesday at 1 p.m. until the Oct. 9 deadline for voter registration.

“One of the things that students don’t realize is that if you go to BW, you can vote on campus with your BW address,” said Melik-Stepanova. “It’s a nice perk to be able to do that.”

Both she and Siebe emphasized the event as non-partisan, with an emphasis on registering all students to vote, regardless of political stance.

Though the event is still in its first year, Melik-Stepanova said she hopes to see the partnership between Mu Phi Epsilon and Jackets Engaged continue in an effort to promote student-voter presence in the BW community and in the country as a whole.