Organizations emphasize student voter importance

Both individual students and Registered Student Organizations have taken action during the 2012 election to educate their peers on the importance of voting.

The SIU College Democrats organization registered 3,000 students to vote since its efforts began in August. The group organized sign-up tables in Lentz Hall, Trueblood Hall and the Student Center.

“We want students to realize that no matter who they vote for, both candidates will have a strong impact on them in particular,” said Chance Tate, president of the organization.

Tate, a senior from Mount Vernon studying political science, said the election choice was obvious for him.

“One candidate told me I should go to my parents if I need help paying for college, so as a student this should be a clear choice,” he said.

The Democratic organization continued its efforts after the registration deadline by reminding students where and when they could vote early.

“People should pay attention because good things may not always happen when we vote,” Tate said. “Bad things, however, do always happen when we don’t vote.”

The Omega Psi Phi fraternity also set up registration tables from the first week of school until Oct. 5. Fraternity member Nicholaus Bates said the men were able to register more than 2,500 people. But they did not end their efforts there.

“We didn’t just want to register people and that be the end,” said Bates, a senior from Chicago studying administration of justice. “We passed out early voting flyers and on Election Day called the people who registered to vote with us and reminded them to get out and vote.”

The fraternity set up a campaign office and began calling and emailing to voters at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The members and other volunteers rotated shifts throughout the day.

“The main point was for people to vote, no matter who they were voting for,” he said. “They needed to understand that they have a voice that deserves to be heard.”

One student, known among several RSOs as “The Picture Man,”decided to form a “No Vote, No Voice” campaign on his own. Devron Valliant, a senior from Chicago studying university studies, said he saw photos of students at another college speaking out about their voices being heard in this election and became inspired.

“I wanted to do something powerful and something that would document history,” Valliant said.

The “No Vote, No Voice” campaign is a photo series of nine RSOs’ members dressed in the colors that represent each group. To represent No Voice, they would wear duct tape over their mouths. Valliant said he wants people to realize that without voting, they are choosing to not have their voices heard.

“Many students think that they don’t need to vote because their vote doesn’t matter, but I don’t think that’s true,” Valliant said. “I think the student vote is one of the most important, specifically to this election.”

Valliant said the Greek community has a big influence on students, and he hopes students who saw the images were influenced to vote.

“I wanted the (photos) to send an important and crucial message but also be fun for the RSOs involved,” he said.

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