With the 2020 elections underway, the Student Government Association (SGA) has teamed up with Samantha Waygood, the coordinator for student activities for the Division of Student Affairs, to help the students on Wesleyan’s campus get registered to vote.
Waygood reached out to SGA President Lexi Barlow and Vice President Christine Davis to create a social media campaign to raise awareness about the voting process. In addition, Barlow took on the task of handing out voter registration cards to the Texas Wesleyan campus.
“I’ve been working with some local public libraries in addition to the Tarrant County election commission to get voter registration cards so we can distribute to the students, and I’ve been using the SGA representatives to also help get those forms out to as many students as possible,” Barlow said.
In the previous presidential election in 2016, Barlow was not of age to vote. She notes, though, that the country has become more divided. This has lite a fire within her to get students educated on how to vote and let people know who the candidates are that are running for office.
This past week, Barlow started with 330 voter registration forms and has spent her mornings and afternoons passing them out to all areas of the campus. This includes waking up early in the morning to meet with sports teams that practice at 7 a.m., like the Gold Line Dance team.
“I do think that [Wesleyan] is doing a good job [getting students to register to vote]. Lexi pointed out that [Wesleyan] is actually going to be a location for voting, which I think just raised awareness more,” said Emily Snow, director of the Gold Line Dance Team.
Snow states that it is important for students to exercise their right to vote and one of the first steps in that process is going through the registration process and getting registered because it is part of a person’s civic duty.
Snow said, “It’s surprising how many people aren’t registered to vote and a lot of that is just due to time and awareness and getting the paperwork done.”
Along with distributing the forms to the students, Barlow, along with other SGA representatives have made the decision to give the students the option to return the forms back to their representative to have them mail it off.
Kealani Villiarimo, SGA representative and Academic Success Center tutor, has been pushing the idea to students that once they fill out their forms, they can easily drop them into a secure box, located by the ASC, that will ensure their voter registration card will get mailed off.
“I talked to my supervisor and I asked her if I could leave some of the forms at the Academic Success Center, so when people make appointments, they would see the forms and we could ask them if they registered yet. They could fill out the forms there, and we also have a box so they can out in the filled forms if they decide for us to take it to the mailroom,” said Villiarimo.
“I think it’s very important for students to come out and vote because every voice counts, every vote counts,” Villiarimo said. “I feel like everybody should participate in the decisions we make for our country and everybody is influenced by these decisions so they should take a part.”
Another major reason Barlow has decided to join in the voter registration campaign is that she has heard several students saying, “my vote doesn’t matter.” That has had a tremendous impact on her.
“We’re at that age now where the next couple of years are really going to impact us because we’re young adults and I want the student body to participate in that and share their opinion,” said Barlow.
Cary Adkinson, associate professor-criminal justice, is very proud and impressed with the efforts being taken on Wesleyans campus with getting students registered to vote. He believes as a citizen and educator voting is one of the most important freedoms that is held and anything the campus can do to encourage voter awareness he supports.
“I think it is awesome and not surprising that our students are taking leadership roles and the initiative to do this. I think it is an example of the type of leadership we love to see from our students,” said Adkinson.
Encouraging student voting on a college campus is an action that Adkinson feels is something that is not only convenient but is a responsibility, said Adkinson.
“I am aware [that ages 18-29 have the lowest voter turnout rate] and yes I do think that creating a culture on campus where political engagement is encouraged and nurtured is important,” Adkinson said. “I think a lot of young people don’t have the real-world experience to feel personally affected by the issues that are important because they are still becoming independent.”
“Once you become aware you become motivated to act,” Adkinson said, “encouraging people that their voices do matter, and their votes do matter, will make a huge difference.”
Early voting will be available on Texas Wesleyans campus starting Oct. 13. The formal West Express Eatery, located in the north end of the Baker Building, will be an early voting location for the Nov. 3 election.
Early Voting Schedule:
Tuesday – Saturday, Oct. 13-17: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Monday-Friday, Oct. 19-23: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 24: 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 25: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Monday-Friday, Oct. 26-30: 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Voting information courtesy of txwes.edu