[Image retrieved from PBS.org]
By MK Killen
Millennials have often been criticized for their apathy toward elections and lack of representation in the voting population, but at St. Bonaventure University students seem to be breaking this stereotype. There have been several opportunities for students to register to vote or apply for absentee ballots on campus so far this year.
First Year Experience hosted an event called Floats and Votes where students were rewarded with an ice cream float for registering. College Republicans hosted a voter registration drive the week of Sept. 19.
Rachel Pelsang, sophomore bioinformatics major and co-president of College Republicans, said, “We have registered about 50 students in the last year, and events like floats and votes get equally as many people. There is generally a steady stream of students registering to vote throughout the year.”
Kaylee Brabham, sophomore biochemistry major, voted last week via absentee ballot.
“I think it’s important to vote this year because of how close this race has been and how close it’s going to be on Election Day,” said Brabham.
When asked about the importance of student votes, Dakota Ward, senior journalism and mass communication major, said that it was important for students to vote due to increasing talk of change to college loans and trying to reduce student debt.
“In the run of the election it was a big debate,” said Ward. “Us college students have to think about how big our debt is and what candidates are going to change that.”
This is not the only issue students have been closely following.
“The issues that are important to me are the economy, talk of increasing or decreasing taxes, and healthcare,” said Jason Caldwell, sophomore management major.
Nate Apker, freshman finance major said he is concerned with “the rising issue of Islamophobia.”
Rob Allen, senior biology major, is interested in the candidates’ positions on international rights, gun rights and taxes.
There are still students on campus who are not registered to vote, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in the election.
Elizabeth Freeman, a freshman theater major, who is not yet 18 and therefore unable to vote, said she has been following the election closely.
“The things that are important to me are Planned Parenthood, ISIS and the growing tension in the middle east, racial inequality and the way it’s being handled now. Basically, I would totally vote for Hillary if I could.”
For some students on campus, this is the first presidential election they are eligible to participate in. College Republicans and other entities on campus encouraged students to exercise their right to vote.
The rules and deadlines for registration vary from state to state, but all voting information is available online at vote.org. Students who are New York state residents had a few options when registering to vote. They could register in their home county and apply for an absentee ballot to be sent to them, or find transportation home on Election Day. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot was Nov. 1. Students could also choose to register in Cattaraugus County and vote there on Nov. 8.