Students promote civic engagement as voter registration deadline nears


Photo credit: Kaitlyn Curry

Mid-term elections are around the corner, and students on campus are spending the months before organizing, canvassing, registering and preparing the Trinity community.

Trinity groups across the political sphere are gearing up for the midterm elections. Tigers for Liberty (TFL) members are block-walking and phone banking. Trinity Progressives (T-Prog) members are being deputized to register voters on-campus. Student Government Association (SGA) is teaming up with student organizations to register students on National Voter Registration Day (NVRD).

David Crockett, chair of the department of political science, believes that if college students want political figures to listen to their opinions, they need to continue this activism and show up to the polls.

“The age group 18–29 is the group that turns out the least percentages for voting — not for any strange purposes. It’s just that it’s the first time for many people voting. They haven’t developed a voting habit, they don’t necessarily see the relevance of voting in their lives — there are all sorts of reasons why,” Crockett said. “But if students want their voice heard, they need to come out in larger numbers.”

TFL members are going to canvas for Chip Roy, a conservative congressional candidate running for the 21st District of Texas, every Saturday with students from the University of Texas at San Antonio. TFL will also phone bank every Tuesday.

Isaiah Mitchell, junior and TFL chairman, believes it’s important for students to get involved in local politics and realize the impact their vote can have.

“It’s just so easy, especially on a campus like Trinity’s that’s so small and insular, to get involved in the bubble mindset. Obviously we encourage people to bust out of that and realize that they’re part of a greater community where political happenings have a big effect on people’s lives,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell also thinks that these initiatives catalyze one’s career in local politics.

“We also get a lot of [first-years] every year in the club who want to get started in politics, and they’re ideological students, and they don’t know really where to start, and this is just about the best starting point — going out and knocking on doors. That’s kind of how you get your political career started if you’re a college student,” Mitchell said.

On the other side of the political spectrum, T-Prog has been focusing on registering voters this semester. On Aug. 30, the club tabled and registered voters at the Health Fair promoted by Global Health Initiative. Carson Bolding, sophomore and public relations officer for T-Prog, explained that there’s a correlation between politics and health.

“We are registering people because we think that policy and politics relate a lot to health in so many ways,” Bolding said. “It’s about health care, and it’s about mental health services for veterans and everyday people. So much of policy influences health-like food — desserts getting food stamps and things like that are relevant too.”

T-Prog’s officers, who are all deputized to register people to vote, plans to host voter registration tables every Tuesday to make it easier for members of the Trinity community to vote in November.

“Civic engagement is important because it’s such a direct way to impact things that are happening in your life, and it’s the easiest way to do it, too. Voting is fun and exciting, and just the fact that we live in a country where you have the option and the ability to impact your government in that way I think is really cool,” Bolding said.

Similarly, other groups on campus are focusing on voter registration. On NVRD, Sept. 25, SGA is partnering with MOVE Texas to bring deputized members to campus and get students registered. As of Aug. 31, other organizations from campus like T-Prog, PRIDE, Trinity University Volunteer Action Committee, EcoAllies, Alpha Phi Omega and Trinity Diversity Connection have agreed to help table.

Cecilia Turkewitz, sophomore and chief of staff of SGA, is excited that the Trinity community is coming together to help with this effort.

“The goal of SGA is to be the voice of the students, so we thought it was a great opportunity to have people come and, once we reached out to these student organizations, they were so on board and so happy to help. I think it’s something that a lot of people were looking at, and MOVE was just such a great way to have it happen,” Turkewitz said.

The NVRD tabling will be on Sept. 25 from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. at Coates Student Center and the Magic Stones, 1–5 p.m. at Coates and the library, and 5–7 p.m. in Mabee Dining Hall.