By Carley Crain
After Nov. 8, America’s foreseeable future will be decided. If either the United States Senate or the House of Representatives gets flipped to a Republican majority, the political climate of our country will drastically change – and this could be extremely harmful to people who can get pregnant, immigrants, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and BIPOC.
Republicans need just five seats to be turned in the House to take back the majority, and in the Senate, only one. President Joe Biden has already announced that if the Democrats remain in the majority, Roe v. Wade will be codified into federal law.
As someone from a key battleground state, I am nervous. I fear for my rights as a woman. In New Hampshire, three major positions are up for grabs – governor, and Congressional positions: Senator, and Representative. According to recent polls, Republican Chris Sununu is likely to keep his position as governor. The races for Senate and the House are extremely close in the Granite State, and the impact of young voters heading to the polls is crucial. New Hampshire has the power to flip the senate if Republican nominee Don Bolduc wins over Obama-endorsed Democrat Maggie Hassan.
Technically, I could register to vote in Massachusetts. But my vote in New Hampshire is more important than ever. And even though we have school on Election Day, I am traveling back home to cast my ballot, which means I will be missing classes.
So why don’t we have Election Day off? Or online classes that day? Many K-12 schools do, even though students who attend those institutions are not old enough to vote. Because Springfield College does not have Election Day off, students will be forced to vote after classes, which for some is difficult with managing homework, athletics, internships or jobs. Mail-in or early voting is also an option, especially for students who live far away from campus.
According to Vice President for Student Affairs Slandie Dieujuste and Provost Mary Ann Coughlin, Springfield College does not have Election Day off because of the required amount of classroom hours and days that are needed to fulfill Federal Government requirements for financial aid funding. The college only has a limited number of days that can be taken off in order to stay in compliance with federal funding guidelines. The college has a history of not having Election Day or Veterans Day off.
When asked about the college making Election Day an online school day, Coughlin said, “One of the things we learned from the pandemic is that some classes really don’t work well online and it is a real struggle for faculty to teach hands-on kinds of things through that mechanism. It is really hard for it to be one-size-fits-all and I think it is really important for the faculty to create the learning environment that is going to work best for their subject matter.”
Voting advocacy efforts on campus this semester have been fairly slim – despite this election being arguably more important than the 2020 presidential race. In 2020, organizations like Men of Excellence and the Graduate Student Organization hosted events (either in person or virtual) that encouraged students to vote.
Social media challenges were also heavily promoted during this time as it helped push students to vote. So where is all of this right now? We are less than one week away from the Midterm Elections.
Part of the reason why voting advocacy campaigns haven’t been as prominent on campus this fall is because of competing priorities, according to Dieujuste. “It certainly is a priority. But as we try and move away from COVID and come back to a sense of normalcy, we have had many things to prioritize and we just can’t do everything,” Dieujuste said. “But I have heard that some voting advocacy is happening in pockets, such as some instructors doing work in their own departments.”
As a woman, this election so far has been incredibly frustrating. I could soon have no rights over my own body, but most of the voting campus advocacy work from two years ago is gone. Silence.
Vote like your life depends on it this November. Because it does. For more information on voter registration and poll information, visit https://www.vote.org/.
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