Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick:
A fundamental goal in higher education is to prepare students for thoughtful citizenship and participation in our democratic society. A starting point for this participation is voting, yet many students are effectively disenfranchised in Michigan if they are not registered to vote in their college communities.
This year, the Western Student Association has once again launched an extensive voter registration initiative on our campus, this time under the capable leadership of WSA Political Affairs Chair Chiante’ Lymon.
Recognizing the importance of student voter registration, the WMU-AAUP has joined with student leaders to support this non-partisan, student-led initiative. Part of our role in this is to encourage you, the faculty, to talk with your students about voter registration, to remind them that they can (and should) register to vote on campus, and to invite trained student volunteers to visit your classes and get your students registered.
This is an essential initiative. Too often, students miss out on exercising their voting rights. They may believe they are registered to vote when they are not or that they are eligible to vote in Kalamazoo if they are registered in their home precincts. As faculty, we can help to clear up these misconceptions, encourage students who are uncertain about their registration status to register in Kalamazoo, and inform them about how they can do so easily, thanks to this registration project.
We ask also that you be aware of and help to address challenges that can result in student disenfranchisement. Students registered at their home addresses who plan to vote by absentee ballot may be discouraged at election time by the planning and lead time required. Additionally, at WMU and nationwide, erroneous claims that registering locally will impact their financial aid eligibility or affect their insurance coverage may discourage many students from registering on campus. We can help by informing our students that there is no truth to these often-repeated urban legends.
Finally, please consider allowing WMU students trained in voter registration to visit your classes before the October 11 deadline for the general election in November.
These visits are an effective way to reach students and to get them registered. In just a few minutes, the volunteers can provide registration forms, answer questions, and collect completed forms.
Ms. Lymon and her team have set a goal to register or re-register (for students who have moved) over 5,000 voters before the voter registration deadline of October 11, 2016. She reports that the in-class registration process takes approximately 12 minutes, including Q&A.
If you are wiling to have a student trained in voter registration visit your class between now and October 11, please email the following information to Ms. Chiante’ Lymon at firstname.lastname@example.org:
Date(s) they can visit your class(es):
Building and room numbers of class(es):
Days and times your classes meet (beginning and end times):
Approximate number of students in your classes:
On behalf of the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee, many thanks to all of you in advance for your participation in this important initiative.
Lisa C. Minnick