NYU’s chapter of Generation Vote, an organization aiming to engage young voters in the political process, is working to make Election Day a university holiday at NYU. The Student Government Assembly passed their resolution on Thursday.
Robi Lopez-Irizarry, Founder of NYU’s GenVote Chapter, began working on the proposal last year to make every other first Tuesday of November, when midterm or general elections are held, a university holiday. Other universities have already taken this step, including NYU’s own School of Law — but, so far, not the institution at large.
“If Columbia is doing this, if NYU’s law school is doing it, why isn’t NYU, the largest private university in the country, doing it?” Lopez told WSN.
Lopez believes the holiday will help to increase voter turnout. NYU students are less likely to vote than their peers at other universities across the United States, according to research conducted by the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement. NYU voter turnout is behind other national institutions by 2.6% and other private research universities by 5%. Liberal Studies sophomore and GenVote member, Sam Reinker, commented on NYU’s low voter turnout.
“That’s a huge gap that’s not explained by just saying there’s voter apathy,” Reinker said. “There isn’t voter apathy among students in our age group at other universities, so why is this happening here?”
If adopted by the university, Lopez’s resolution would be effective in time for the 2020 presidential election. Lopez, along with other members of his organization, hopes to massively increase student turnout through the university holiday and by using social media to spread information about how to vote, including voter registration guides and deadlines in specific states.
“2020 will probably be the most consequential election of our lives, and student voter suppression is on the rise across America,” Lopez said in his speech addressing the Student Government Assembly. “NYU must make a commitment to prioritizing civic and political engagement on campus.”
In addition to designating election day a university holiday, the resolution also advocates for gathering statistics on student voting and making that data more accessible.
“I got involved [at GenVote] because voting is the issue that allows us to talk about all other issues, to have a voice in democracy,” Reinker said.
While passing the resolution through the SGA is a large milestone, the resolution still needs to be voted on again by other chambers of student representatives before the administration decides whether or not to adopt it. Still, Reinker is optimistic, due to his experience working with SGA members to pass the resolution.
“The folks from the actual administration have been kinda receptive,” Reinker said. “Which was a nice surprise.”
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