With Election Day on Nov. 2 approaching quickly, many Oakland University students are preparing to get out and vote.
OUSC Legislative Affairs Director Nessma Bashi ran a campaign to get as many students registered to vote as possible before the Oct. 2 deadline. Bashi said she and other OUSC members helped 500 students register to vote.
“We went around to the dorms, we did tabling within the (Oakland Center) and we also went person-to-person in the OC for a full week,” Bashi said. “Any person that was congregating in the OC, we got them.”
Bashi said registering to vote is as simple as completing a form that takes less than a minute to fill out.
“Most people don’t like to do it just because they get confused,” Bashi said. “There’s a whole section that you don’t have to fill out – it’s all optional.”
She said she also tried to streamline the process as much as possible.
“We just went through and highlighted what was important, and it took people about 45 seconds to fill it out,” Bashi said.
Despite the fact that the registration deadline has passed, OUSC is continuing its work to spread election awareness.
On Nov. 2, OUSC will be presenting the Get Out the Vote Concert from noon to 2 p.m. in the Pioneer Food Court.
OUSC Public Relations agent Jackie Puuri said the concert will feature performances by former OU student body president Dan Evola and student Mukoma Simpanya.
“The goal of the event is to inform students about the responsibilities of voting while entertaining them at the same time,” Puuri said.
Puuri said the event will also feature tables for candidate awareness as well as free T-shirts and OUSC wristbands.
“The Legislative Affairs Committee is working on candidate awareness, so promoting the issues that are going to be affecting the student body in the upcoming election, as well as the candidates that are going to represent them,” Bashi said.
One of those issues is the possibility of Michigan reinstating the Promise Scholarship.
According to the state of Michigan’s website, the Promise Scholarship was suspended beginning with the 2009-10 fiscal year. The scholarship had provided qualifying Michigan high school graduates with up to $4,000 towards post-secondary education at any approved institution in Michigan.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero has said he is in favor of reinstating the scholarship if he is elected governor. Republican candidate Rick Snyder has not supported reinstating the scholarship as it was, but has talked about creating more scholarships on a needs basis.
OU Associate Professor and Chairman of the department of political science David Dulio said the issue may not be decided by the candidates themselves.
“A lot of what the gubernatorial candidates have in mind depends completely on the state legislature,” Dulio said. “They can’t do that themselves. …Is it possible? Sure. Is it likely? I don’t know. We have to wait and see what the makeup of the state legislature looks like.”
With the state legislature continuing to cut funding for higher education, Dulio said finding money to fund the Promise Scholarship may be difficult. He said he doesn’t expect to see the trend of the state legislature cutting funding for higher education from its budget to change any time soon, though he doesn’t rule it out completely.
“(Higher education) is an easy target among the legislators and among state government in general,” Dulio said
Dulio said increasing jobs and growing the state’s economy would allow legislators to give more funds to higher education.
“You have to increase the amount of money that’s available,” Dulio said. “The more the state has in its coffers, the more they can give to higher education and other programs.”
Despite several issues like the economy and education that affect college students, it remains to be seen if young voters will be a factor in this election.
Anthony Debay, a graduate accounting student at OU, said he is planning to vote in the election.
“I do not vote strictly for Democrats or Republicans only,” Debay said. “I choose the candidate that I can identify with the most. …I try to hear the for or against position on all of the issues for each candidate and base my vote on who I agree with the most, and who I feel I can trust the most.”
For information on where you should go to vote if you are registered, and for a sample ballot, visit www.michigan.gov/vote