As Election Day approached, Catholic University students prepared to make their voices heard. Recent initiatives throughout the University community have encouraged students to vote and promote a civil and respectful environment for all on campus.
The Office of Campus Activities hosted two voter registration drives to encourage members of the University community to register to vote. The Student Government Association launched an extensive voter registration and absentee ballot project entitled “Cards Vote 2020” to provide students with a step-by-step guide to voter registration and requesting absentee ballots.
On Oct. 7, the Student Government Association gathered the student leaders of six political organizations on campus, College Republicans, Young Americans for Freedom, College Democrats, Ignite, CU Discuss, and the Network of Enlightened Women, to pledge their civility in their political dialogues, respect the views of others, and understand that all human beings are made with dignity in the image and likeness of God.
“Our country faces increased division and upheaval. The COVID-19 pandemic, followed by nationwide outcries of racial injustice, has put the student body in an unprecedented position,” said Student Government Association President Gerald Sharpe. “SGA also recognizes the heightened political polarization our country is experiencing. Catholic University ought to be a place where civil dialogue is had and varying viewpoints are accepted.”
The University athletic department has also encouraged all of its teams and student-athletes to vote. According to Jason Eichelberger, assistant athletic director for communications, about a dozen out of the 25 registered university athletic teams reached 100% voter registration status. To accomplish this initiative, athletic teams challenged each other on social media to register to vote. Once a team had all of its athletes registered to vote, it would challenge another team in the department to accomplish the same. The athletic department’s Instagram account also kept a tally of which teams were fully registered.
Several political student organizations, including the College Republicans and College Democrats, began social media campaigns to encourage students to vote and discuss what voting issues matter to them.
“College students have been historically low-turnout voters which is extremely concerning considering that college students have a lot at stake,” said College Democrats President Regina Brennan. “We are inheriting a depleted economy, entering into a declining job market, applying to graduate schools at their most expensive rates, and coming into a time where healthcare is on the line. All of these things, whether people realize it or not, come to fruition at the ballot box … There has never been a more crucial time to vote, and college students all have a say in the world we are set to assume come graduation.”