On Aug. 31, I started a petition in partnership with the student organization I am associated with, the Student Climate Union. The petition calls for cancelling classes and exempting all students from school work on Nov. 3, Election Day, 2020. The petition has garnered well over 200 signatures, but that is still not enough to amply effect change. Therefore, I am writing to you today to call for unity of the Truman State University student body in favor of cancelling all school activities on Election Day.
This very well could be the most consequential election in modern American history. It’s safe to say that every issue of substance is on the ballot this year: healthcare, climate change, civil rights, reproductive rights, voting rights and the list continues on and on. That being said, every member of this campus has a stake in the November elections.
Our right to vote is slowly being purged from us, as Americans and also college students. Young people are often the targets of ridicule when it comes to electoral politics, as we are accused of not taking issues seriously or being disinterested in our government. I care to offer a different perspective and say that it’s hard to vote in this country as a college student. Let me be clear, it’s too hard to vote in this country, and that isn’t because the system is flawed, it’s because it’s designed that way. Voter suppression is sadly becoming more and more common, especially against groups that seek to benefit from changing the status quo, and college students are not free from this act of repression.
Truman is made up of students from not only across Missouri, but from across the planet in general, meaning students registered in other states have a hard time voting when they are stuck in Missouri on the first Tuesday in November. Furthermore, considering the current state of our postal service, it’s a fair point that voting by mail is not going to be easy this fall either. Therefore, Truman needs to cancel class on Election Day, for the sole purpose of allowing students to go home if they need to. But even if they don’t need to go home — even if they are registered to vote in Kirksville — no one should be forced to choose between receiving an education and exercising their right to vote.
It is obvious that we must come together as a student body and call for the cancelling of all school work on Election Day 2020. If it is on us to go to the polls and cast a ballot for our future, then it should be on our school to support us every step of the way in doing so. This movement isn’t just about picking leadership: it’s about a generation demanding respect and calling for change on behalf of our future.