Shelsea Deravil, firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for voter registration for the upcoming presidential election is approaching quickly, but some campus organizations, like Ursinus Leads the Vote, are helping to prepare the campus-community for this date. Ursinus Leads the Vote (ULV), a student-led organization, helps with “requesting a mail-in or absentee ballot, answering [people’s] questions, and providing information [needed] to vote for the upcoming and future elections.” “[It’s] a student-led, nonpartisan initiative that helps ensure that Ursinus students are informed and prepared to vote…engaging with the campus in a couple different ways this fall… with a series of events,” stated Katie Turek, associate director of the Ursinus Center for Advocacy, Responsibility and Engagement (UCARE) and staff advisor of ULV. As staff advisor, Turek supports and guides the organization. ULV meets biweekly as a full group on Wednesday evenings via Zoom to update on ideas, events, plans, etc. Turek is the only staff member in ULV. ULV kicked off their engagement initiative with a night screening of “John Lewis: Good Trouble” this past Friday Oct. 2, on the Kaleidoscope Lawn. Several viewers were in attendance, wearing masks, and seated in accordance with the campus’ COVID-19 guidelines/protocols. ULV is broken into subcommittees, with each having specific tasks. The first subcommittee is “doing grassroots outreach to different organizations on campus, to recruit students [as] voter captains,” Turek said. Voter captains will make sure that others within their organizations are ready and registered to vote. The second subcommittee’s Instagram page, @ursinusvotes, is their digital-communication platform where the organization aims to mobilize and empower others to vote through text blasts, social media campaigns, and promoting the other subcommittees’ work and voting resources. The last subcommittee focuses on event planning. They plan and host virtual and/or outdoors-and-socially-distanced events in the attempt to create hype around voting. UCARE is connected to ULV beyond Katie Turek serving as staff advisor. UCARE itself engages in social advocacy and civic engagement. As stated on the Ursinus website, UCARE provides a variety of handson service opportunities and training(s) for Ursinus students, with the goal of helping them develop into thoughtful and responsible civic leaders. Given this, UCARE believes ULV’s initiatives are crucial. “The voting and civic engagement aspect of UCARE is an important side to being an engaged citizen. Participation in democratic systems like voting…we see it as part of our role on campus to make sure students have access to information and assistance needed to access those routes of involvement,” Turek said. “I believe fundamentally that everyone should be able to vote and have a say in their government and policies that shape our lives. Unfortunately, voting has been made very difficult, tedious, intimidating, which makes people feel alienated and prevents them from voicing their opinions. If everyone were able to engage with voting, and participate in democracy that way, the world would look a lot different than it does [currently].” Future ULV events are still under discussion. A trivia night, co-hosted with a UCARE fellow, is still under work. Furthermore, the organization has reached out to the Montgomery County’s election judge for a possible virtual Q&A in learning how to vote with the new COVID-19 precautions and procedures in place. The organization plans to address the USPS/mailin system in regards to mail ballots and voting as well. Nevertheless, this student organization is doing something large here on campus, bearing in mind the current pandemic we are in that continues to surprise us with its unpredictability. This demonstrates ULV’s vitality and determination to make sure that everyone goes out and votes this November.