The Undergraduate Student Government held a voter registration rally and competition in the 25th Street Plaza on Tuesday, Sept. 27. USG held the rally to give students an opportunity to register as voters for the 2016 presidential election. The event was organized by Ehtasham Bhatti along with members of USG. Bhatti, who serves as the USG vice president of Legislative Affairs, explained, “The purpose of the rally was to enable students to register and later exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election. We wanted to show that voting is a great way to express your opinion and get involved in local and national issues. It took countless hours to plan the event, but it all paid off as the rally was a major success.”
The plaza was crowded with students and livened by inflatable jumping castles, free munchkins, cotton candy and popcorn. The event also featured a live DJ playing music. School clubs and organizations set up tables along the plaza, competing to entice those students who were unregistered voters into becoming registered voters. USG later awarded a co-sponsorship prize of $500 to Baruch’s Women in Business for registering the most voters of any club.
As the festivities continued, USG President Daniel Dornbaum took the stage to welcome event attendees and other speakers to the stage. Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations Jay Hershenson urged students to register and reminded students of the veterans who had risked their lives to protect the right to vote. Later, Sungin Hong, a Marine Corps member and current vice president of Baruch College’s Veteran’s Association spoke on behalf of his association. Other people on the stage included members of Baruch College Democrats and Baruch College Republicans—the latter club is still pending approval from Student Life. Rosemary Shields, a representative from the New York City chapter of the League of Women Voters, spoke as well.
Voting rallies, like the one held at Baruch College, may influence voting rates among students. Students who attended the voter registration rally had varied opinions about the upcoming elections and what would inspire them to vote for particular candidates.
Mia McDonald, the president of Baruch College Democrats, encouraged millennials to vote, saying, “It is more important than ever that young people get out and vote this year.” McDonald sympathized with those millennials who may feel unsure about selecting a candidate, but stated, “We have two choices, and our country cannot afford to see Donald Trump elected.”
Vice President of College Republicans at Baruch Chaya Halberstam expressed her own views on the upcoming election and why she will vote. “So many young college students do not think that their voice can be heard, and find it pointless to go out to the polls. It is not pointless. Take a good look at the country and decide, do you want things to continue this way another four years?”
President of Baruch College Republicans Vincent Gangemi also commented on why millennials are less likely to vote. “I think millennials often do not vote because they feel the modern political atmosphere doesn’t address the issues that matter most to them.” To younger people who may have reservations about choosing a candidate, Gangemi offered the following advice, “There is a beautiful mural down on Lafayette Street that says, ‘Vote Your Conscience!’”