Voter registration week arrives at GVSU

<p>GVL / Daniel Pacheco</p>

GVL / Daniel Pacheco

McKenna Peariso

National voter registration week is Monday, Sept. 24 to Friday, Sept. 28 and Grand Valley State University will be hosting several events to help students register to vote and learn more about democratic engagement. GVSU was designated a Voter Friendly Campus by the Campus Vote Project thanks to its dedication to registration encouragement in the 2016 General Election.

The week of civic events kicks off with the Open Student Debate Night on Sept. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Mary Idema Pew Library Multipurpose Room. This event is hosted by Student Senate to spark discussion between students about current affairs in the United States. Senate will also be hosting a panel again in the library’s Multipurpose Room on Sept. 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. following their weekly General Assembly. This panel will discuss who represents students at GVSU and allow for open questions from attendees about civil engagement on campus. 

National voter registration day is Tuesday, Sept. 25 and the Michigan Mobile Secretary of State will be on the Allendale campus next to the Cook-Carillon Clock Tower from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to register students to vote. There will also be food, light refreshments and a DJ during the registration event. The Mobile Secretary of State will also offer other services including license, tabs and registration renewals as well as an organ donor registry. 

All events scheduled for national voter registration week were organized in part by the community service learning center and the Campus Democratic Engagement Coalition. This group is compiled of GVSU faculty, staff and students whose goal is to increase student voter engagement on and off campus. 

“Our goal is to prepare students to become active engaged citizens,” said Associate Director of Student Life Melissa Baker-Boosamra.  

Although GVSU was one of only three Michigan universities to be named a voter friendly campus, only 56 percent of GV students were registered to vote during the 2016 election. Only 68 percent of those registered actually voted in the 2016 General Election. While these numbers may seem low, the percentage of registered voters on campus has continued to rise as Grand Valley continues to push for voter engagement each election season. 16 voter registration drives were held in the fall of 2016 alone, all hosted by various student organizations. These registration drives helped register thousands of students to vote in the election. GVSU currently holds the record for the highest number of voter registration applications submitted in a day to the Michigan Mobile Secretary of State.

Beyond voter registration, Grand Valley regularly hosts panels and discussions to promote civil engagement and open dialogues about the issues that impact the GVSU community. Aside from the Student Senate panel and debate night, there will also be a Democracy 101 event that will look further into the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act. The Democracy 101 event titled ‘Proposal 1: Should Marijuana be Legal in Michigan’ will be held in the library’s Multipurpose room from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26. 

The Community Service Learning Center will be hosting a series of Democracy 101 events based on upcoming ballot initiatives, political topics and more. Democracy 101 events are also LIB 100 and 201 approved. To see the full calendar of Democracy 101 events visit the Community Service Learning Center website. 

Grand Valley’s dedication to civil engagement helped earn them the title of a Lead Consulting Institution from the 2018-2019 National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). This title calls for Grand Valley to act as a mentor to other universities in regards to democratic engagement and civic learning strategies. Only seven other institutions nationwide are selected to join this national initiative. Grand Valley’s programs of discussion and political dialogue displayed to NASPA the university’s commitment to civic engagement work. 

Aside from national voter registration week, GVSU will host several voter registration drives every week Monday through Thursday until Oct. 9 which is the last day students can register to vote in the 2018 Michigan election. Scheduled times for the voter registration drives can be found at gvsu.edu/service on the ‘democratic engagement’ page. Voter registration resources are also available year round in the Community Service Learning Center.

Several events will be occurring through the next two months dedicated to educating students on the midterm election in November.

“GVSU will continue its civic learning and democratic engagement efforts through voter education, registration, engagement and community dialogue,” Baker-Boosamra said. “This is the time that students can get registered and educated and prepare for that midterm.”