The team entry lead by Dean Jolin provided a strong and heartfelt personal statement based on their experiences as educators and the discussions they had with their students. We truly appreciated their focus on drawing a map that would in some way address the issues they see affecting their students every day. The range of challenges that were discussed and overcome through this group entry exemplified the community-based approach to mapping voting districts.
Our team is made up of four administrators at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), a public-serving institution committed to providing resources to a diverse population of students. Given the high number of at-risk students we serve, particularly those in minority groups and of low socioeconomic status, we decided as a team it was imperative for us to take part in Draw the Lines.
Ultimately, our aim as higher education professionals is to ensure our students have a voice, a family-sustaining wage, and equitable representation in the political landscape.
As our map developed, the complexity of district determination became apparent. We brainstormed for hours across many weeks before narrowing to the following priorities for districting:
The team was keen on seeking input to approach drawing district lines from a variety of perspectives and ensure equal representation of all voices. The team started as one individual at the college, but interest quickly grew as other members of the Student Development team saw an opportunity to carry the work of student support and development to a larger scale.
The team experienced a number of challenges in developing the map. Some were overcome more easily than others, while some issues remained barriers throughout the map's creation. Obstacles included:
The Draw the Lines initiative has certainly made an impact on our team and increased our awareness around the issues of redistricting in the state of Pennsylvania. It is our team's hope that redistricting at the legislative level will adopt these same principles while using their resources to overcome the challenges we encountered.