If Furman Wants Us All to Vote, They Know What They Need to Do
Want students to vote? Give them a day off.
This year has taken us all by surprise, and the American people have faced a steady stream of formidable challenges. How we proceed and rise from these life-altering occasions perhaps depends on the next president of the United States. Our new leader affects the path we take to combat climate change and the horrors of inequality, the actions we take to restore health and community to the nation, and the efforts we make to provide jobs for the economy as well as refuge for those aiming to enter the country. The future we so desire relies on what we the people decide, yet we the people, and specifically us Furman students, may find it difficult to vote.
The recent CLP for the 2020 presidential debate garnered about 1,000 Furman participants, which gives hope that students will exercise their right to vote in this election cycle. It is evident that students are invested in the future and want to have a say in it because, with everything that has happened in the world this year, we have truly felt the repercussions of government actions on our daily lives. Additionally, we have seen the power young voices can have when amplified on a national scale. We are prepared to vote for what we believe in, and energized to get to the polls in November.
In the last presidential election, only 30% of the Furman student population voted. Was this a result of a lack of interest, or were there other barriers in students’ ways? Regardless of the reasons behind this statistic, what it conveys is a reality that is unacceptable this election cycle. Given how impassioned students are on campus this year, and the high-stakes nature of the election, Furman needs to do everything in its power to clear the way for students to participate in democracy.
In some ways, Furman is encouraging students’ efforts. DinsVote has been helping register students to vote on campus, there have been multiple CLPs on the importance of student voting and university news is rife with election information. However, Furman has neglected to block off the school day on November 3rd. Why?
Is learning the duties of the citizen not a key tenet of a liberal arts education? Furman could live by this tenet by canceling classes on Election Day. Not only would this incentivize students to vote, but it would also remove the hurdles that might keep them from doing so. The administration should be able to sleep at night knowing they did everything they could to promote democracy. Furthermore, students need to feel empowered by their school not only in words but also in deeds — it is important the University prove their sincerity.
In addition to needing a class canceled to go vote, students simply need a break. Dealing with the stresses of incessant school added to the stresses of living in a pandemic has been incredibly taxing. We have been working diligently, adhering to the rules and regulations in good faith, and, without a day off, a school-wide burnout could be approaching soon. Election Day could be the perfect day to allow students to mentally check-in on themselves and their peers, as well as time to participate in our most important right as citizens—voting.