The Student Government Association (SGA) discussed various pro-voting initiatives for students at its weekly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
One such initiative was the Time Off to Vote (TOTV) open letter campaign, created by the student-led, nonpartisan organization Every Vote Counts. The campaign was presented to SGA by Executive Director Campbell Streator, who explained that the goal was to empower student voters once they enter the workforce and to eliminate obstacles standing in the way of voter participation.
“I recognized a specific power that students as future employees can have in reaching out to their future employers to advocate for issues like time off to vote,” Streator said. “We’re advocating for students on campus being able to vote, and it makes sense to try and do something for their first steps out of college.”
The letter, drafted by students in collaboration with their student groups and associations, is aimed at the 400 corporations that employ the largest numbers of recent graduates. The corporations are urged to implement the TOTV policy by granting employees two hours of paid leave to vote on Election Day. At the time of the meeting, the letter had received support in the form of signatures from 73 distinct campuses.
SGA voted unanimously to sign on to the campaign.
Senior Class Senator Keidai Lee introduced another student voter initiative, “How to Vote on Planet Earth,” on behalf of the Civic Engagement Committee.
“How to Vote on Planet Earth” is an endeavor by the committee to cultivate a diverse digital community encouraging young people to vote. According to Lee, it will be a video project consisting of commentary about voting from storytellers of international backgrounds, paired with visuals of participants making cultural recipes from their respective countries.
“We invite any story about any country,” Lee said. “More importantly, we’d like each person to compare their system with America’s voting system. They can talk about the ups and downs, as well as their criticisms and support of the current government.”
The initiative will be directed by Lee, who has worked on similar projects in the past. Through this project, he hopes to foster openness within the University’s diverse student body.
“[The goal is] to encourage people who are normally closed to people of different races or different backgrounds and encouraging them to be open. Hopefully the recipes also serve as a metaphor for the point that they’re trying to make,” he said.
Lee explained that “How to Vote on Planet Earth” is open to any students motivated to participate, especially video/audio editors, animators, scriptwriters and social media marketers.
SGA also witnessed the confirmations of Sophomore Class Senator Obi Onyinanya and Junior Class Senator Talal Widatalla as chair and vice chair of the Black Caucus, respectively.