With Massachusetts primary elections approaching rapidly, the deadline for voters to register themselves for Nov. 8 elections is Oct. 29. The vote-by-mail application deadline is Nov. 1.
Massachusetts is home to some of the most diverse universities, and the student population makes up a significant percentage of voters. To increase awareness among university students about their voting rights and to help them practice their civic duty, the University of Massachusetts is a proud member of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge equips colleges and institutions with the required tools to thrive at nonpartisan student democratic engagement.
The ALL IN Democracy Challenge aims to partner with institutions to have direct student engagement and to build informed student communities. “American democracy will result from the greater inclusion of informed college student voters,” reads the vision statement.
In August 2020, President Marty Meehan joined the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, with over 200 college and university presidents and chancellors, committing to boost total student voter registration, engagement, and turnout in August 2020. More than 900 institutions have signed up for the challenge to increase student voting.
#UMassVotes is one of the campaign commitments signed by President Meehan and five chancellors of UMass campuses, including UMass Boston. Members who signed the President’s Commitment have pledged to achieve full student voter participation, providing tools to students to make an informed choice while casting their ballot. With the students, the campaign also envisions empowering faculty and staff members and convening the administration to solve the problems faced by the communities around.
UMass Boston Vote Coalition is a group of organizations on campus that facilitates civic engagement activities to achieve 100 percent voter registration, engagement and turnout across UMass Boston. The coalition comprises MASSPIRG, Undergraduate Student Government, UMass Boston College Democrats, UMass Boston College Republicans, Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement, and more.
UMass Boston Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco supported the plan and commented, “The promise and practice of democracy is nourished and flowers by voting. Without 100 percent participation, democracy wilts. Please vote.”
On Oct. 20, MASSPIRG, UMass Boston College Democrats, College Republicans, and representatives from Undergraduate Student Government held a three-hour tabling event at Campus Center Terrace to register voters. Students who were already registered to vote pledged to vote on Election Day. When asked about the importance of youth voters, Adam Everidge, Vice-President of College Democrats, replied, “It is most important for young people to go out and vote because it allows you to have the most impact at the community level, and it allows you to make your voice heard.”
Getting students to vote is one of the major difficulties that college campuses face. Stephanie Donalds, a junior studying women’s, gender and sexualities studies, said, “[students] might think that oh! I am just one person; why would my voice matter? But obviously, yes, you are one person, you are one vote, but your one vote might make the difference between one thing or another. So, one person can make a difference, and one life can make an impact. So, don’t think your vote doesn’t matter because it does.”
UMass Lowell, UMass Dartmouth and UMass Amherst have facilitated robust civic engagement activities through the Office of Student Activities and Leadership. UMass Dartmouth successfully established a polling location on campus, making it accessible for students and faculty to vote during a regular school day. UMass Boston student trustee Michael Dooley signed a statement alongside other student trustees, supporting the campaign.
The statement reads, “Young people have been the catalysts for real change here in America and around the world, and the most effective way that we can create change is to cast an informed vote. As the elected representatives of more than 72,000 students from across the five UMass campuses, we endorse the non-partisan #UMassVotes initiative and urge students to take action now to ensure that they know how, where and when to vote this fall. Every student should make a plan to vote in November in-person or by mail. Go to massachusetts.edu/umass-votes for more information.”