Kaleb Crump Data News Weekly Contributor
The last presidential election was decided by 77,000 thousand votes.
With the Louisiana voter registration deadline steadily approaching on Oct. 13th, Xavier University of Louisiana students, faculty, and staff held a voter registration day on Saturday, Oct. 3rd at the Gert Town Community Center to push for an increase in registered voters in the city. The event was hosted by Xavier’s chapters of the Collegiate 100, the NAACP, Mobilization at Xavier 2.0, the Student Government Association, the Association of Student Athletes, along with Resident Assistants.
“The ‘get out the vote’ is not only for our students but for the community, helping people register so that everyone can be franchised,” said C. Reynold Verret, Xavier’s President. “This is what we’ve been doing for many years. This is what our ancestors fought for. All Americans should be voting, no matter their party affiliation, everyone should be voting,” Verret said.
Many institutions like HBCUs and community non-profits have been working in neighborhoods to help residents understand the many ways to vote during a pandemic.
“There’s been a large push for voter registration in Gert Town recently,” said Antoinette Williams, a candidate who is running for the Orleans Parish School Board election. “Multiple organizations are pushing for a larger turnout because this election is a big one, not just for local races but for national races as well,” Williams said.
The effort requires more volunteers to not only help residents with the process but to help them also to understand the issues that are at stake.
“First and foremost, we need to increase the insight of policymakers and we need to do that by first opening conversations between those who are creating the policy and our students and teachers,” said Williams, who is graduating from Xavier in December and who is one of the youngest candidates to run for the school board.
“I think oftentimes our students are left out because they’re not of voting age but the policies we make directly impact them. So, we need to have their input when deciding what impacts them,” said Williams, who studied political science and education.
After one hour of work, the group managed to obtain 25 more registrations.
“I believe my vote will be the difference between having a president that cares about issues that matter to me and policies within communities, like racial inequality and police injustices,” said Lauren Bowman, a Xavier Speech Pathology major who volunteered to register Gert Town residents.
HBCU students are motivated about this election, said Curtis Wright, Xavier’s vice president for Student Affairs, because of the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and the impact that had on their communities.
“So, we understand how important it is to make sure that everybody who has the capacity to vote or, who is legally able to vote, has the ability to get registered,” Wright said. “Some communities are suppressed, so our goal is to do our part to help engage our civic responsibilities in our community to get people registered to vote,” Wright said.
The voter registration event also worked to bring the campus closer to its community.
“We begin to grow our relationship with our community, so this is one way that we engage our community, but we’ll continue the community and university partnership throughout the years,” Wright said.