Concerns surrounding elections have heightened in recent years as Americans worry about voter fraud and voter suppression, election security and election accessibility, and the fairness and inclusivity of the American electoral system. Various states have enacted stricter voting laws while other have attempted to expand access to the ballot box. As election season proceeded in the fall of 2022, the DCI’s D Teams focused on the issues, pressing challenges, and possible solutions related to voting and elections in America.D Teams Poster Fall 22
Over three sessions, these D Teams deliberated about how we can make voting more accessible, more secure, and more fair. The first session focused on whether we should make voting more accessible through early voting, voting by mail, an increased number of polling places, and more. The second D Team meeting examined election security and whether we should reduce concerns about voter fraud through poll watching, use of better technology, voter ID laws, and other strategies. The third and final session addressed whether we should improve our elections by implementing reforms such as ranked choice voting, proportional representation, and the abolition of the electoral college.
Over 160 people participated in 19 D Teams to discuss these topics. They met for two hours every couple of weeks either in person or online. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with over 96% reporting that they were satisfied or highly satisfied with their D Team experience.
Fall 2022 D Team Testimonials
Below are testimonials from some of the participants and some snapshots from some of our in-person D Team meetings:
“I thoroughly enjoyed all the discussions in my D Team meetings. Despite participants from both sides of the political divide, it was refreshing to realize that we still have much in common. [Our facilitator] did a good job of pulling everyone in and keeping the discussions (or even disagreements friendly). The country would benefit from more such conversations.” Fall 2022 D Team Participant
“I thoroughly enjoyed the three sessions and talking with the other participants. Our moderator did a great job of keeping us on schedule when that was needed and allowing us to take more time on a topic where we had a good discussion going.” Rick Whitener ’73
“I had such a positive D Team experience. I really wasn’t sure what to expect and it absolutely exceeded my expectations. Our team had such interesting, thoughtful conversations that typically resulted in many of us saying, “You know, I realize I don’t know a lot about x” and going to do some additional research. It really helped me to see how much I don’t know about a lot of these topics, and even within a group of people who (I think) have fairly similar political leanings, there was a lot of diversity in our perspectives and priorities. We left our last session saying we’ll never look at elections in quite the same way again, because our conversations helped us to consider things we’d previously taken for granted (e.g., who in your state gets to vote, how do they get to vote, when can they vote?) – I feel a lot more informed and able to speak more confidently to both sides of the issues we discussed. Thanks so much for a fantastic opportunity! Fall 2022 D Team Participant
“My experience on the D Team was rich and rewarding. The student facilitator was informed and engaged, encouraging each participant to share his or her voice in the discussion while also asking thoughtful questions and helping us reach meaningful insights. I look forward to the next opportunity to be involved in a D Team gathering.” Natalie Akin ‘05
“I appreciated the DCI framework as it gave me a chance to discuss issues without as much polarizing language as public discourse seems to have currently. I was encouraged that while all may not have attributed issues to the same cause, all were open to common solutions to the problems.” Fall 2022 D Team Participant
“Engaging in the DCI helped me step out of my localized bubble of friends and colleagues. Sharing time and ideas with people who all cared about Davidson, an institution that means a lot to me, was not only enjoyable, but it was rewarding. I’ll be back for more D Teams in the future! Stephen Powell
“The D Team meeting proved to be a redemptive experience for me. When I was a student at Davidson in the 90s, I felt like such a political outlier. Politically active conservative students were frequently dismissive and rude towards my more liberal beliefs, which is not unexpected, but sometimes they crossed the line into anonymous threats, which made it difficult to feel like I was a valued part of a robust learning environment. Instead, I felt very much like an unwelcome outsider, an interloper into their cozy boys club.
The conservative administrative leadership in the 90s didn’t help. It was patronizing and condescending to those of us trying to move the needle toward making Davidson a more inclusive environment. Thank goodness for the excellent professors and staff, particularly in the Campus Ministry and the College Union, who pushed against that administrative perspective. They are the adults who made me feel like I could belong in such a different place. They were the ones who held space for the square pegs who didn’t want to shave off our edges to fit in the conservative round holes.
To have an opportunity to engage politically with a multi-generational group of students and alumni on the D Team, to feel heard and valued by those people, helped me contextualize those college years. Hearing that it is now conservative students who experience the discomfort that I felt back then also helped me build empathy. I have more confidence that Davidson can continue to move forward in building a community in which multiple contradicting political beliefs can be challenged without challenging the essential humanity of the individuals holding them.” Fall 2022 D Team Participant
“It is so important that we learn to talk in meaningful ways about tough issues. D Team allowed me to experience this in a safe, structured environment. Our D Team discussions have given me the confidence to expand my conversations about election related topics with all my friends and family. That was so rewarding to me personally. I hope these continue and become a permanent part of what Davidson can give back to the community.” Kim McLendon
“My D Team experience allowed me to have rich discussions with a mix of students, staff, and alumni. I particularly enjoyed the diversity in our ages and backgrounds. The written guides and our facilitator helped me feel prepared to participate in topics I had little experience in discussing, especially outside of my own friend group.” Amy, Davidson Staff Member
“Outstanding opportunity. I learned much from the readings and even more from fellow participants. Respectful, open discussion. I reconsidered my view and perspective. I highly recommend others join.
These were refreshing and nourishing conversations. I enjoyed hearing other people’s perspectives on issues I care very deeply about. The structure of the sessions led to good solid conversations.” Tom Moore
“The DCI experience was exactly what I had envisioned — it was a chance to ‘practice’ being less judgmental, active listening, and expressing my views in a constructive way. Thank you to the students who both facilitated the conversations and who participated in the meetings — your presence really added to the experience. Lisa McNeilly ’86
“I highly recommend joining a D team to help build appreciation for how diverse people’s views are and what it would take to build consensus with any proposed change.” Fall 2022 D Team Participant
“This was a very engaging and insightful experience. I enjoyed interacting with persons of diverse opinions and locales. It is good not to be in an echochamber.” Fall 2022 D Team Participant
“Our discussions were informative, stimulating and led me to think more thoroughly about the issues.” Fall 2022 D Team Participant
“The DCI experience is one of the rare opportunities in these contentious times that cross-generational, and cross-political perspectives can be shared and engaged within a respectful discussion.” Fall 2022 D Team Participant
“Not only did I learn more about the discussion topics, but I feel much more confident engaging with others having different perspectives, hopefully resulting in mutually respectful learning and sharing and sharing of ideas.” Fall 2022 D Team Participant
“This D Team experience was amazing. The participants spanned ages from 18 – 80. The team included equal numbers of women and men. The group included US born, an immigrant, and one from a foreign country. In included on person for whom this was the first contact with Davidson. Consequently, there was a broad range of experience with the subject matter, as well as a fairly wide continuum of opinion about the voting practices. Our DCI leader was able to glide us through our discussion in a seamless way. She introduced each section with ease and had a natural way of including members of the group which was very inviting. When there was a clustering of opinion, she would often introduce other perspectives to assure that we were thoroughly considering points of view that were not present in our discussion. After the three sessions I came to realize that I knew less about the subject than I thought I knew when I joined the group. As a result of the background reading, I feel that I have learned a great deal about elections and voting. Now, I feel a need to read and learn more in this subject matter.” Fall 2022 D Team Participant
“The Deliberate Citizenship Initiative has been a very positive experience for me– exactly the kind of thing a college like Davidson should be doing. Learning across generations, out of our normal comfort zones, in many senses student-led, timely and relevant topics — all in all a worthy effort. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate and encourage others to as well.” Fall 2022 D Team Participant
“I signed up to participate in a D Team experience hoping to gain skills that would help me feel more equipped to engage in dialog across political difference, and I was not disappointed. The structure and content of the discussions were great – as was the opportunity to be in conversation with a humble and inquisitive group.” Erica Caloiero
“My D Team experience was awesome! Turns out I really didn’t know much about election processes and nuances, but what a great opportunity this was to learn more. The discussions were interesting, engaging, respectful, and ably led by a great student facilitator.” Fall 2022 D Team Participant