With just hours remaining before polls opened for the 2017-18 Central Student Government elections Tuesday evening, Public Policy junior Nadine Jawad, the eMerge vice-presidential candidate who currently serves as an executive policy adviser, made a final proposal to the current assembly. Jawad introduced a resolution encouraging University of Michigan Housing to integrate voter registration into required first-year student events, an idea outlined in the party’s platform.
The resolution, citing a study that found fewer than half of University students voted in 2012 and 2014, states that since all first-year students are required to attend various Welcome Week events organized by University Housing, they should also integrate voter registration into transitional activities.
After six months of meeting with the administration and the University’s Residence Hall Association, Jawad tabled a discussion wherein she argued incorporating voter registration into required University Housing activities makes the most sense.
“We think that if we can get freshman when they first come here who haven’t registered to vote yet to register, we’ll make it easy through the first meeting,” Jawad said.
Upon meeting with RHA and LSA student government, Jawad agreed with suggestions that the initiative must be a collaborative effort between all organizations involved with required first-year student events.
RHA President Sujay Shetty, an LSA sophomore, endorsed the resolution, and placed it on the agenda for the next two RHA Executive Board Meeting agendas.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Shetty said. “I couldn’t find any factors which would make it so it shouldn’t be passed.”
During her presentation to the assembly, Jawad argued the most effective way to integrate voter registration into the first-year events would be through incorporating it into RA training each year.
“It makes sense (and) it’s efficient,” she said.
LSA senior Ibtihal Makki, an LSA Student Government representative, spoke to the assembly in support of the resolution, explaining some fundamental issues that prevent students from voting.
“Part of the problem is a lot of students come to this University and don’t know how to register to vote,” Makki said.
She went on to argue that by registering students to vote, they in turn can become agents of change in the government.
“When we are politically engaged, we are directly affecting the things that are going to affect our futures,” Makki said. “Politicians know that college-age students don’t vote, so they don't make our concerns that high up on their agenda of things to address, and so if that continues, we just won't have representation and people who are going to advocate on things for millennials and people who grew up in our generation.”
Responding to concerns in the committee that this initiative may be too extensive and far-reaching, Jawad referenced the resolution’s encouragement of collaboration between the University’s Ginsberg Center to provide specialized training, and called upon the RHA’s diversity peer educators to carry out the initiative.
“We don’t make the decision on who within housing will be trained,” Jawad said. “Our recommendation is that DPE is trained because if you train every RA in this, that is a lot of people to be trained but DPE’s make their way around every single housing meeting that happens within the first week.”
“It’s training a smaller set of people to become really skilled in it rather than training 1,000 people to do it who might touch the surface or not be as passionate about this,” she continued.
The resolution has been referred to by the Resolutions Committee and will be voted upon next Tuesday at the next Student Assembly meeting.