Your local and campus media can be a powerful tool for sharing your story, raising awareness, inspiring action, and making sure local candidates and elected officials are paying attention to the issues you care about.
To complete this activity, you must submit an op-ed to your local media outlet about the importance of voting in the upcoming elections.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started.
Step 1: Do your research
- Identify the campus or local newspaper or media outlet that you’d like to work with and track down their submission requirements.
- Find out the word limit. Op-eds are usually 550 to 725 words.
- Check the archives to see if other articles have been written on your topic and what views were taken. Differentiate yourself from what has already been published.
Step 2: Outline your letter or op-ed
- Tell your story: who are you, and why do you care about voting?
- Introduce the problem: STEM undergraduate majors vote with less frequency than nearly every other major (recent study).
- Highlight the issue or local impacts that you care about in the upcoming election.
- End with a strong conclusion. Whether your ask is for individuals to register to vote, turn out to vote, or encourage their friends to vote, make sure your conclusion is clear and forceful.
- For further tips and recommendations, check out these resource guides for writing an op-ed or a letter to the editor.
Step 3: Fill in the details:
- What are the upcoming deadlines for registering in your area? Include these to add urgency. Use trusted sources to get information about registering and voting; you can start with our Register to Vote page. Rock the Vote also has comprehensive information about registering, voting, and voting rights protections in every state.
- Be nonpartisan. Your op-ed or letter to the editor can help educate students and faculty on your campus about nonpartisan, science-based policy solutions. Avoid calling out candidates by party affiliation.
- Here are some other great examples and prompts, developed with the Union of Concerned Scientists and 500 Women Scientists as part of their Get Out the Vote campaign in 2018.
Step 4: Review your newspaper’s requirements and submit
- Follow up. After you submit the op-ed wait a week and then follow up to find out if it has been accepted and will be printed.
Did you complete this activity?
Well done! Have you also completed the two required activities for the Science Rising Challenge — registering to vote and having a plan to vote? Then congratulations! YOU have completed the Science Rising Challenge!
Share your achievement with your friends and let us know you’ve completed the challenge. We’ll send you a cool button to recognize your accomplishment and your participation in our democracy!
More about this activity
This activity is part of our efforts to mobilize students, scientists, and advocates around the country to publish op-eds and letters to the editor in local media outlets ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.
As part of this effort, Science Rising is proud to partner with the National Science Policy Network (NSPN) and its 2020 Election Initiative. As part of the NSPN’s Advocacy Track for engagement, participating chapters will receive support on framing, editing, and promoting their op-eds.
Every other week, NSPN will issue a call for op-eds on a new topic. The current topic addresses what comes next policy-wise as the US attempts to “reopen” once it is safe to do so. What have we learned about our changing society from this pandemic? What should local and state communities be doing? Where can evidence-based policy take us from here? If this is a topic that interests you as both a scientist and member of your community, send a draft or pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll be paired with an editor & be ready to publish in 2 weeks!