In an event hosted by the NYU Multicultural Alumni Group, actors Rosario Dawson and Wilmer Valderrama visited NYU to raise awareness for National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday.
Together, Dawson and Valderrama have visited Hofstra University, St. John’s University, Columbia University and Newark University. Eighty other organizations were also participating in promoting National Voter Registration Day, including Autism Speaks, Goodwill Industries, Inc. and National Education Association.
Dawson currently serves as the chairwoman of an organization called Voto Latino, which was founded in 2004 to encourage young Latino Americans to vote and to get them involved in the political process. Marian Newsom, associate director of Alumni Relations and one of the event’s organizers, first learned about Voto Latino from a CAS alumna who encouraged the organization to visit NYU.
“[Voto Latino] started with this idea that the Latino community needed some kind of kick in the ass,” Valderrama said. “We needed to take our involvement in the national community as serious as we take our lives.”
At the event, Valderrama said 50 percent of Americans between ages 18 to 25 are registered to vote, while only 39 percent of Latinos of the age group are registered to vote.
“You look at 50,000 young Latino people turning 18 years old every month and you ask,‘Imagine if all these percentages of the population worked to engage,’” Valderrama said. “We would really be able to shape the country we need. You have the power.”
Dawson also stressed the importance of young voters in the United States.
“There’s a crisis here, and that’s why it’s really important that, because you are already registered, you have the intention to vote,” Dawson said. “You’re taking that leadership.”
Tisch junior Johanna Nchekwube said he was inspired by the event.
“To see how they expressed their Latino pride showed me that I need to have a step up in my culture,” Nchekwube said. “I feel like this is a start to see how people do things so I can mimic that.”
Wen-Jui Han, a professor at the Silver School of Social Work, sees National Voter Registration Day as a way to promote solidarity among a city with students from diverse backgrounds.
“NYU is located in such a diverse city and community, with 300 languages and people coming from different parts of the world,” Han said. “To understand voting…has important implications in terms of how people being united together and have a voice despite coming from different parts of the world and different backgrounds. Voting can give you a unified voice.”
Valderrama said about 15,000 New Yorkers were registered to vote by the end of the day.
In a previous version of this article, WSN omitted that the event was sponsored by the NYU Multicultural Alumni Group. WSN regrets this error.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday Sept. 26 print edition. Tanay Hudson is a foreign correspondent. Email her at email@example.com.
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