Students and faculty are teaming up to encourage Binghamton University students to make their voices heard in local, state and national politics.
The Center for Civic Engagement’s (CCE) political engagement task force is working with student groups and the Broome County Board of Elections to encourage students to register to vote and make their decisions as educated as possible.
“We try hard to get our students registered to vote and more importantly, get them voting,” said Allison Alden, director of the CCE. “We try to help them understand what they’re voting about, the issues and what candidates stand for.”
The CCE is working with The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s “Vote Everywhere” program, which promotes pro-voting activism. Binghamton University’s ambassador, Nick Doran, said the year ahead will be full of events to get students involved and working with the community.
“We’re looking to have a lot more voter registration tabling events, have election-day parties and get people excited about voting,” said Doran, a sophomore majoring in economics. ”We want to break the record from 2012 and have the campus go even further in terms of voting.”
Events in the works include having election day parties, training students to be poll station workers and having local candidates come to campus to discuss issues.
“We’re hoping to have folks that are running for office to come talk on campus, discuss the community challenges as well as national and state level politics,” Alden said. “We’re trying to move students to be involved in what we call ‘public deliberation,’ it’s more than just having a strong opinion about something, but listening carefully and thinking through all the various aspects.”
Alden said that the the University’s voting population could play a key role in local elections.
“Students are a very important demographic in our community and in pretty big numbers,” Alden said. “It’s 16,000 students. Our students are bright and they care about things and have great ideas. They reside here nine months a year. I would strongly recommend they register to vote here.”
College Democrats President Harris Weiss agreed that students have more power over Binghamton’s politics than some may think.
“I think college students could play a big part in local politics, especially in the smaller races,” said Weiss, a junior majoring in political science. “If a decent portion of the student body voted in Broome County, we could swing elections or be a decently sized voting bloc.”