With early voting in North Carolina debuting Oct. 15, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of voter engagement this year. Early voting is already pioneering this year’s elections, and just within our own campus, we’ve seen Talley Student Union packed with people looking to cast their ballots. It is clear to anyone — whether progressive, conservative or centrist — that politics are especially important this semester. We, as students, know this, considering that our polling data suggests an extensive amount of us plan on voting this election, but I’m not sure our administration does.
It is imperative for us to tackle voter initiatives with enthusiasm and passion, and our university is no different. With the United States already having an ongoing problem with voter suppression and disenfranchisement, the University should’ve already made Election Day an university holiday.
Just in North Carolina alone, we are facing various systemic evils rotting the integrity of our civic engagement. Our state has a horrible gerrymandering problem, Black ballots are already being turned down at higher rates than their white counterparts and we haven’t even discussed the potential threats of voter intimidation nationwide. We are, like many other states across the nation, historically entrenched in sin, but we only remain in the vicious cycles of history if we choose to.
It should be obvious to anyone that making Election Day a university holiday further accessibizes voting to students. With the youth vote being substantially higher this election year, having Nov. 3 off gives students more time to go to the polls and cast their ballot. The United States already suffers from horrendously long voting lines when compared to the rest of the developed world, further disenfranchising students juggling school, work and now the emotional toll of a pandemic.
We haven’t even touched on the fact that various students are already working and/or volunteering at polling sites across the state, further exacerbating the hectic student life. We should not have to juggle between our civic duty and our costly academic interests.
Not only are students positively affected by making Election Day a university holiday, but staff and faculty also. We’re already seeing professors burnt out from this failed accelerated semester, and adding already inaccessible civic duties to their extensive workload only adds salt to a searing wound. And with many of our academic departments making extensive efforts to research and promote civic engagement, NC State administration choosing to have Nov. 3 remain a work day reeks of hypocrisy.
I’ll bite and give credit where it’s due: Our administration has done a few things to increase civic engagement this year. Pack the Polls, for example, is a nonpartisan effort by the Leadership and Civic Engagement office to “provide civic engagement education, activities, and centralized information to the NC State community.”
However, these civic efforts become immensely more difficult to attain with an indifferent administration which refuses to give students the breathing room to go to the polls on Nov. 3. The burden of civic engagement should not be left for the student body to figure out. Our fellow students, faculty and staff should not have to settle for less this already disappointing year.
NC State administration, make Nov. 3 a university holiday now and forevermore. We should not have to write extensive Student Government bills, form dozens of student coalitions and vocalize civic discourse for y’all to feed us a crumb of accessibility. For once, try not to disappoint us once again this year.