By Laura Melamed
In wind and sun, UB students, staff and faculty registered voters on Gordon Plaza the week of Oct 6. When it rained on Oct. 7, they took the voter registration drive to the Business Center. As a result of their efforts, twenty-nine more students were registered to vote by the end of the week.
The drive stemmed from a proposed voter education project that began in Nov. 2013 when UB student Ron Kipling Williams, approached the College of Public Affairs and let them know there was a real need on campus. As a result, and as part of the project, UB started offering a one credit voter education course. Students in the class then created a voter education guide.
Students can currently find an expanded version of the guide on the College of Public Affairs website.
Williams had been working with the College of Public Affairs to create more programs under the Voter Education Project and the October voter registration drive was one of them.
Williams, who is working on an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at UB, registered people to vote at the table with the help of Andy-evens Pierre, an undergraduate in UB’s International Business program and Guy Bosworth who is working on a BA in English Literature. Dr. Deidre Badejo, a professor in UB’s School of Communication Design also assisted.
The Office of Community Life and the Dean of Students joined in to educate students about the process. Volunteers gave students a little quiz and invited them to sign a pledge-to-vote banner that said “My Voice Matters.”
Adam Gertz, a drive volunteer and Graduate Assistant who is working on an MPA, says that once students know how to register, where to vote and what they need, they’re more likely to follow through. Our goal is to hold them accountable, he adds. Handing out buttons that say “My Voice Matters” and bandannas printed with stars and stripes create an incentive, he continues, “and make it kind of fun.” Ultimately, he says, “we’re hoping they’ll keep their commitments.”