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For immediate release — Sept. 4, 2008

(DALLAS) — As the November presidential election approaches, government and speech communication students at El Centro College this fall are learning how disenfranchisement has affected politics for more than 200 years. Those students — enrolled in “Voting Rights of the Historically Disenfranchised” — will have hands-on experience with voter registration. The budding deputy registrars were sworn in by Dallas County officials on Sept. 3. 

During the semester, they will conduct voter registration drives; attend class; participate in the Common Reading Program (sharing their experiences with a book titled “The Secret Life of Bees,” which looks at the challenges that one woman faced as she tried to vote); and plan and host an election-night watch party in November in the ECC Student Center as Americans exercise their right to vote for the next president of the United States.

“This class actually is a learning community,” explained Karen Mongo, ECC speech communication coordinator. Mongo and Gay Michele, government coordinator, are teaching the students about the history of voting rights and disenfranchisement as they incorporate practical experiences into the curriculum for the learning community. Students are earning seven hours of credit by learning about cultural studies; undertaking service projects (for service learning); and enrolling in either “Introduction to Speech Communication” or “Introduction to Public Speaking.” 

Mongo added, “This experience will highlight the ‘who, what, when, how and why’ of the disenfranchised and in what ways this phenomenon has challenged — and continues to affect — democracy in our country. The service learning component of the class will show students that they can make a difference concerning this issue, too.”

For details, contact Mongo at or (214) 860-2235; or contact Michele at or (214) 860-2379.

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Press contact: Ann Hatch