University groups encourage students in registration process
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
During the past two months, the Texas Freedom Network Chapter at UTEP recruited 1,386 students to register to vote. Likewise, other organizations on campus, including the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, University Democrats and the Queer Student Alliance, have stressed the importance of being a registered voter within the student community.
Those who participated in the voting registration drive felt that by registering and voting, their opinions can be officially and legally voiced.
“I was never very involved in politics, but college is all about expressing your views and making your voice heard,” said Aidil Trevizo, sophomore mathematics major. “I registered because I feel if I am at an age where the country decides I can make a difference, then why shouldn’t I? Most people don’t believe one person can make a difference, but it only takes one person to create a movement.”
Cindy Cruz, freshman music major said she, acquired a sense of purpose and responsibility as a United States citizen just by registering and participating in the polls.
“It’s helping the country you’re in and making it better for the younger generation,” Cruz said.
Olac Fuentes, president of the Texas Freedom Network Chapter at UTEP, pushed for students to know the importance of becoming a registered voter.
“Our idea is to create voters, to inform voters,” said Fuentes, a senior multimedia journalism major. “Statistically speaking, Hispanics tend to be unrepresented in the polls and so are students. So this is why we focus on students, UTEP students, because we are students as well.”
The Texas Freedom Network, a non-partisan organization, works year round with the younger generation to promote voting registration. This past summer, representatives of TFN went to local northeast high schools, to speak to political science classes.
Richard Gutierrez, political science lecturer, believes that organizations such as TFN and University Democrats promote youth awareness when it comes to representation in the polls.
“If these organizations are getting more persons to register, that is a step to increase citizen participation in the electoral process,” Gutierrez said. “Young voters do not vote in great numbers, which is unfortunate because they bring a different perspective to the table.”
Fuentes said being able to recruit voters is a step towards reaching these political organizations’ goals.
“If we can get students, young people to vote, we can definitely have a big impact,” he said.
According to Fuentes, 54 percent of the nation’s registered voters actually vote, the Texas average is 35 percent, and as for El Paso it is 12 percent.
Students who are involved in political organizations are excited to participate in the 2012 election season.
Ana Karen Dominguez, sophomore cellular and molecular biology major, is involved with TFN, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and Amnesty International.
“I’m 19, I’ve waited a good portion of my life to vote, of course I am going to vote,” Dominguez said. “(I’m in) three clubs that were all working hard to get people to register to vote. Some of my closest friends and I were getting others to register to vote.”
Different locations on campus, including the library, Leech Grove and the Student Union, had tables for students to register nearing election day.
TFN encourages students to not only register for the presidential elections, but also to participate in other elections, such as the educational board members.
“One of our core issues is defending public education, efforts to politicize education in Texas,” Fuentes said. “All these issues come from the state board of education, the thing is that members of these boards are elected in very low votes. These people have an impact and power over education, so we enforce registered voters to participate in these elections.”
According to Fuentes, 400 pledge cards, which were created as reminders to vote in the elections, were signed by UTEP students for the TFN.
“We like to focus on the big picture, but also the small ones too,” Fuentes said.
Marilyn Aleman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.