Campus, News

BU groups promote voting in student-led social media campaign

Several Boston University student groups are encouraging student voter participation in the upcoming presidential election through the initiative “Vote with BU Spirit.” COURTESY OF BU SPIRIT

Student groups at Boston University are banding together in an effort to encourage the student body to head to the polls on Nov. 3.

Those involved in the “Vote with BU Spirit” initiative are posting essential election information on their social media platforms to inform potential voters about all aspects of the 2020 race.

The collective includes student leaders from BU Spirit, alongside the university-wide Student Government and the College of Arts and Sciences Student Government. The bipartisan collaboration also includes BU College Democrats and BU College Republicans. 

Evan Teplensky, director of social media for BU Spirit, said the campaign was created to help congregate resources centered around voting.

“I don’t want to act like we are that one centralized resource,” Teplensky said. “But I think my intention with coming up with the idea for ‘Vote with BU’ is just so that if students have questions, they can DM us.”

Having BUCD and BUCR on board, Teplensky said, provides more voices that can respond to these questions.

BUCR President Frank Serpe wrote in an email the intent of “Vote with BU Spirit” is to share voting information, such as how to obtain and complete a ballot. He added the coalition is hosting a competition with prizes to help increase student voter turnout.

“This campaign is working hard to make sure that BU student voters stay as informed as possible on the voting process in the lead up to Election Day,” Serpe wrote. “At the same time, we are also trying to do it in a fun, easy to understand way.” 

Teplensky said that while everyone should vote, people shouldn’t do so blindly and should educate themselves on the different candidates and their policies. 

“Does it hurt my heart when people say they don’t like politics? Yes, but I also get it,” Teplensky said. “I always respond with, ‘Well, you can’t tell me you don’t care about the government, because you are a citizen, and therefore, one way or another, you’re impacted.’” 

CAS Student Government President Angela Chen said she believes this election is especially important for BU, whose students come from diverse backgrounds.

“With this voting season,” Chen said, “it’s definitely really important, as a minority, to vote.”

The initiative’s inclusion of a diverse group of organizations that are able to represent the student body — Republicans, Democrats and the large population in CAS — is beneficial, she said.

“You got to have that balance,” Chen said. “It’s very important for these organizations, and hopefully more in the future, to collab with the voting season coming up.”

Serpe wrote the cooperation of BUCR and BUCD shows bipartisanship is “still possible” during this time.

“It should also serve as an assurance to the members of the BU community that you will be left free to make your own decisions on the issues and candidates,” Serpe wrote.

BUCD President CeCe Szkutak said the groups wanted to build on the University’s already-present voting initiatives.

“One of the main reasons why BU Spirit came together to form this coalition of clubs and spearhead their own voter registration drive,” Szkutak said, “is because they felt that the one spearheaded by BU wasn’t exactly doing enough to engage with students.”

Szkutak drew a comparison to F— It Won’t Cut It, the student-created product of the AdLab and PRLab that aims to encourage BU students to practice appropriate safety measures on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“Sometimes it is better to have a student-run narrative of these types of things,” Szkutak said, “in order to more successfully get the word out.”

Szkutak said college-aged voters in particular are a good target audience for voting campaigns because of historically low turnout rates.

“Students don’t realize how important their vote is on a larger scale,” Szuktak said, “and I feel like on a college campus, we really get wrapped up in our own lives and the smaller things that we think are important.”

Sonia Devaraj, a freshman in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said she thinks the coalition will be particularly effective for those frustrated by partisan politics. She said some of her friends have considered not voting this year due to the divided state of the nation.  

“I think by having a campaign that unites [both parties] to encourage people to vote would definitely help,” she said.

Ellie Gonzalez, a freshman in the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, said BU initiatives like this remind her of the importance of voting. 

“I have definitely seen posters around the school telling me to vote,” she said, “so I made sure I’m registered.”  

Gonzalez added she feels there is much stake in this election specifically, so she believes targeting young voters is a good tactic to create the most change.

Szkutak said though there are no concrete plans to keep the coalition running beyond this year, she hopes it will continue.

“I know, obviously, all those organizations aren’t going anywhere,” Szkutak said, “so it would be very easy to start this back up again.”

Chloe Liu contributed to the reporting of this article.

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