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Help Yourself Campaign @ the UNT Libraries

Students can face many challenges and situations while in college. We can help you help yourself. Guide created and maintained by Brea Henson.

Civic Engagement, Help Yourself Campaign, UNT Library

Subject Headings and Call Numbers

Locate books with these call numbers at Willis and Sycamore Libraries, GOVT Online Resources, and UNT Online Resources. Physical materials can be checked out at one of our service desks or through our self-check machines for complete privacy. 

Citizenship Study And Teaching Higher United States

  • JF801
  • JKK1759
  • KF4700
  • LC1091

Political Rights, including Participation, Political Activists, Political Parties, and Citizenship

  • JF799 
  • JF2049
  • JF2011
  • JF801
  • LC336 – LC337
  • HM1206

Service Learning

  • LC220.5 – LC221

Student Movements, including Student Political Activity

  • LA186
  • LB3610

Online Resources


Register to Vote

Register to Vote

Voting Information for Students

Ballots can only be cast in the county and precinct where a student is registered to vote. For students living in the dorms or away from home, there are two options for voting in upcoming elections:

  1. Request an absentee, mail-in ballot (find more information here)
  2. Transfer voter registration to their college/university address (Recommended). If transferring voter registration, access information about locating early voting, local precincts and voting times below.

Have additional questions about student voting, talk with a Deputy Voter Registrar at the Sycamore Library @ Sycamore Hall or call the Denton County Elections Office at 940.349.3200 

Learn more about voting in Denton County and the State of Texas at the links below: 

Organizing a Protest

Change comes from students. Here are some tips for organizing a protest within university policy. There are more tips and tricks available at Government Information Connection: Civic Engagement Portal.

How to Organize a Protest

1) Goals. A protest can increase public awareness of an issue or persuade elected officials to make changes. Decide what you want to accomplish and who the intended audiences is to achieve the desired outcome.

2) Where. Pick a location that will best reach your target audience when possible (in front of a courthouse, business, or administrative building.)

3) When. Pick a day and time where you will have the most impact, such as at an event, when you can rally the most supporters, or when you will have the largest audience.

4) Permits. On campus, UNT recognizes that freedom of expression and public assembly are fundamental rights of all persons and are essential components of the education process.  These activities promote debate and the sharing of ideas, which are the foundation of educational institutions. Contact the Dean of Students Office to reserve designated spaces for your protest. Off campus, contact the city to obtain the appropriate permit.

5) Plan. Consider how you will be the most effective, holding signs and passing out literature, protest chants, marching from one location to another, or speakers who are passionate about the issue. Consider additional things such as having plenty of sunscreen and water on hand if your group will be outside for several hours.

6) Promote. Promotion can be just as important as the protest itself. Create a clear message that people will remember, hopefully one that includes a call to action. Use social media, post flyers and contact local media outlets (television news, radio, or newspaper.)

7) Be courteous.  There will be people there who disagree with you, be respectful of their opinions; you are more likely to persuade someone to see this issue from your perspective with civil discussion. If police are at the protest, be polite and follow their instructions.

How to Start a Petition

Change comes from students. Here are some tips for starting a petition. There are more tips and tricks available at Government Information Connection: Civic Engagement Portal.

How to Start a Petition

Research. Spend time reviewing both all sides of the issue. Develop a focused argument that describing the issue, what is needed for improvement and why, along with your respectful, formal call to action. If you need help with this step, ask your Librarian at

Requirements. Your target organization may have specific guidelines for considering petitions. This could include approvals, numbers of signatures, and the correct office or individual to address.  

Format. Decide on paper, e-petition, or both. Your petition should include:

  • A title: “Petition to [Action Requested]”
  • A summary of the issue
  • The specific action petitioned for: “We, the undersigned, are [your group name,] respectfully request [include your action item here in 10 words or less]”
  • Space for names, signatures and addresses

How to Write a Letter to Elected Officials

How to Write to Elected Officials

E-mails and letters are effective ways to communicate with elected and other government officials. Here are some tips on proper format and effective content for a letter urging an action or expressing an opinion to a member of Congress or a member of the state legislature.



  • Your legislators like to hear opinions from home and want to be kept informed of conditions in the district. Base your letter on your own experiences and observations.
  • If writing about a specific bill, describe it by number or its popular name. Your legislators have thousands of bills before them in the course of a year, and cannot always take time to figure out which one you are referring to.
  • They appreciate intelligent, well-thought-out letters that present a definite position.
  • Even more important and valuable to them is a concrete statement of the reasons for your position--particularly if you are writing about a field in which you have specialized knowledge. Representatives have to vote on many matters with which they have had little or no first-hand experience. Some of the most valuable information they receive comes from facts presented in letters from people who have knowledge in the field.
  • Short letters are almost always best. Members of Congress receive many letters each day, and a long one may not get as prompt a reading as a brief statement.



  • Letters that demand votes for or against a certain bill without giving any reasoning are not very influential.
  • Threats of defeat at the next election are not effective.
  • Boasts of how influential the writer is are not helpful.
  • Do not ask for a vote commitment on a particular bill before the committee in charge of the subject has had a chance to hear the evidence and make its report.
  • Form letters or letters that include excerpts from other letters on the same subject are not as influential as a simple letter drawing on your own experience.
  • Congressional courtesy requires legislators to refer letters from non-constituents to the proper offices, so you should generally confine your letter-writing to members of your state's delegation or members of the committee specifically considering a bill.


Tips to Consider

Here are some tips from the University of California Berkeley Library on contacting and communicating with your elected official through letters or e-mail:

  • Be Original: Consider writing your own original correspondence. While many organizations can provide you a pre-written letter or postcard that you simply sign, many legislators consider a thoughtful, original letter from a constituent worth 1000 of the pre-written letters. Feel free to use a pre-written letter as a base to rework with your own words.
  • Stay Brief: Government officials are usually very busy. The maximum length of a letter/e-mail should be one page. Keep in mind that the letter will probably be read by a legislative aid, so a brief letter is best.
  • State Who You Are and What You Are Writing About: Identify yourself as a constituent and why you are writing in the first place first paragraph. This will keep your letter brief. However, refrain from using lines such as "As a citizen and a taxpayer..." and never make a threat.  Also, if you know the bill name or number state it in the first paragraph.
  • Personalize Your Letter/E-mail: If the legislation you are writing about will affect you personally, tell the legislator about it. Write a brief personal story about what the legislation will/will not do for you and/or your community.
  • Personalize Your Relationship: The more you can personalize your relationship with the legislator, the stronger your letter/e-mail will be. If you worked on his/her campaign or donated money to the legislator or their party, say so. If you ever met the legislator, briefly mention this in your letter.
  • Three Points: In keeping your correspondence short, consider making no more than three main points. Flush out your three strongest points and stick with them.
  • Be Respectful: Taking a firm position on an issue is fine, but opening correspondence with "Dear Idiot" will probably get your letter sent straight to the garbage. Do not use profanity. Even if your legislator is not the person you voted for, remember to be respectful.
  • Include Your Address in Your Signature, Even in E-mail: Legislators are busy people, and you should never demand a response. However, some legislators will take the time to write back, but they cannot if you do not include your address. Including your address also affirms the fact that you are a constituent.
  • Proper Address: Below are the ways to address your letters:

Dear Mr. President:

Dear Mr. Vice President:

To The Honorable Senator [Name]:

To The Honorable Representative [Name]:

  • Follow up: After you have contacted your elected official, follow up on what they did. If he/she voted the way you wanted, consider contacting them to thank him/her. If your legislator did not vote the way you wanted, consider contacting them and respectfully express your disappointment. In any follow-up letter/email, mention the fact that you wrote him/her before the vote was taken.

For more information and suggestions on writing to your elected officials see the Government Information Connection: Politics and Elected Officials: How to Write a Letter to Your Legislator page (2020).

UNT Archives & the Student Demonstration Poster Collection

Student Demonstration Poster Collection

UNT Libraries Special Collections has a Student Demonstration Poster Collection. This collection is comprised of large posters created by students of the University of North Texas. A majority of the posters are decorated with handwritten phrases and drawings, though several have been created through stamps.

First accretion consists of posters created in the course of the "Willis Wall Demonstration" which took place on September 21, 2016. This spontaneous demonstration was started by student Jazmine McGill, who placed six posters on the exterior of Willis Library. The posters expressed frustration and anger at a series of events in the news involving policy brutality and violence against African Americans. The posters also expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Throughout the day on September 21, 2016 students added their own posters to the wall, and added additional comments to those posters. Additional posters were added to the collection in 2017 following a similar poster demonstration in a different campus location in 2017.


UNT Archives

The University Archive is the home for the university’s historical documents, photos, collections and artifacts. Scholarly researchers, genealogists, historians, students, faculty and the public are all welcome to use the University Archive.

Browse the “University Archive” category of finding aids to see what university resources are available for research.



We encourage UNT staff and faculty to become familiar with the records that need preservation and follow the records retention schedule. As mandated by the Board of Regents, the University Archive permanently preserves records of enduring value. A few examples of records that come to the Archives are: department publications, photographs, broadcasts, reports, and biographical records (such as faculty vitas). You can learn more information about contributing here.



Help us build the archive of the future by preserving a piece of your digital life—whatever that may be. You can submit anything from a selfie on your first day of class to a video on your graduation day. Archivists will review submissions of digital photos, documents, and short videos for preservation in the University Archive and UNT Digital Library.

Submitting materials to Keeper is easy. Follow the Keeper link here, and simply drag and drop files from your desktop, or upload files directly from your mobile device. Once files are added to the app, tell us a little about who you are and what you are contributing to the archive.

Materials added to the University Archive and UNT Digital Library will be part of a growing research collection of publicly accessible, digital archival materials. Learn more by following the link.


Government Information Connection

The Government Information Connection provide excellent resources on civic engagement, elections, and elected officals. Please visit the pages to learn more. 

Collection Highlights

Copyright © University of North Texas. Some rights reserved. Except where otherwise indicated, the content of this library guide is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license. Suggested citation for citing this guide when adapting it:

This work is a derivative of "Help Yourself Campaign @ the UNT Libraries", created by [author name if apparent] and © University of North Texas, used under CC BY-NC 4.0 International.

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