Student congress fights for no-class election days

If the Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC) has its way, students will get one more day off.

OUSC will present a proposal regarding election day workloads to the OU Senate on Tuesday, Aug. 4. The proposal will be presented by OUSC President Ethan Bradley and Civic Affairs Director Jeremy Johnson.

The plan to pursue no-class election days began last year, when Bradley was the director of civic affairs.

“I tried a bit to get the election day proposal going, but I never really got anywhere myself,” Bradley said. “When [Johnson] came on I helped point him in some directions that might be useful, and from there he took it up himself.”

When Bradley became president in March, Johnson filled his spot and focused heavily on the elections issue. 

“When I first got this position … I knew I wanted to do something with election days,” Johnson said. “I see it my job [as director of civic affairs] to make sure students are able to vote without having barriers.”

Johnson, with the help of Steering Chair Brisilda Musaka, got the idea of class-free election days codified into C.R. 21-01, a resolution approved by the Student Congress.

C.R. 21-01 states the Congress recommends for classes, exams and major course assignment due dates to not occur on election days. Students having the opportunity to vote and an awareness of the important role students play in the civic process are the reasons given for the change. The resolution can be found on the OUSC GrizzOrgs page

Due to the relatively limited powers of the Senate, Johnson and Bradley will be presenting a modified version of the proposal. 

“[OUSC] decided we wanted to find a way to get excused absences for students on election days,” Johnson said. “There would be some provision in their syllabus … that would say they are not required to attend [class on election days]. They will not be deducted points; nothing bad will happen to their grade.”

Additionally, Johnson and Bradley will argue against scheduling exams and assignment due dates on general and primary election days. While not the full proposal, the presenters see it as a starting point for greater changes.

Should the Senate adopt the proposal, there is still a long way for it to go before being made into an official university policy.

“The current state of this initiative is making sure the steering committee of the university Senate is open to the idea,” Johnson said. “Once I convince the [the steering committee], then it will go to the whole Senate as a resolution or some type of syllabus policy.”

Johnson is hoping the presented proposal will be official policy by Nov. 3, so students can take excused absences to vote in the 2020 presidential election.

Much of the process to get no-class election days will go on in meetings and legislatures, but students can still contribute to the effort by showing support.

“There is a form that we have where students can submit testimonials about how having election days off would help them,” Bradley said.

The form asks students how long it takes or them to vote, if their education has ever hindered their ability to vote and why voting is important to them. The answers students give will be used in the Aug. 4 Senate meeting.