In 2014 only 11% of K’s eligible voting student body cast their ballots in the election. Despite our emphasis on enlightened social leadership and change, we as a student body have shown apathy towards the election process. This year, the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) is running their “Get out to Vote” campaign to promote student participation in the upcoming presidential election.
“I myself am not eligible to vote as I’m not yet a US citizen. I’ve always been interested in politics so this is a way for me to be involved and contributing to this democracy in an indirect way,” said Susmitha Daggubati, K’16, the CCE’s Program Assistant who is primarily in charge of the campaign.
Through tabling in the Hicks Center and hosting a First Year Forum titled “Don’t boo, vote! Why voting matters,” the CCE registered over 100 K students to vote, said Daggubati. The forum included many faculty and student guest speakers to present the different facets that create a registered, informed voter.
“Know where to vote, and have a plan. As a strong advocate for participatory democracy, I believe that everyone, regardless of your understanding of such complex political structures, should vote if they want,” said Alexander Ross, K’17, of the College Republicans over email.
In addition to the “Why Voting Matters” forum and voter registration, the CCE also hopes to give students the opportunity to learn about local politics and issues in the Kalamazoo community. As such, the CCE presented a forum last Monday about Criminal Justice Reform to educate students about this issue on a local and national level, and to inform them about opportunities, such as the CCE’s HYPE program, that work to combat these structural inequities.
“Ultimately, the outcome of a local election is far more likely to matter to your daily life than the presidential election, so make your choices carefully. Know every candidate’s position and vote your whole ticket. Don’t go to the polls unprepared,” said Ian McKnight, of the College Democrats.
As transportation is a common barrier for college students, the CCE will be running shuttles to the local polling centers on November 8th. The CCE also ran this campaign in 2008 and 2012 with significant success.
“I’m hoping that through attending these different events, watching the presidential debates, and researching on non-partisan websites students can make the best choice that they see fit,” said Daggubati.