The University of Louisiana College of Democrats (ULCD) created a petition for the university to cancel classes on Nov. 3 to allow students more time to vote in the 2020 election.
ULCD Vice President, Lauren Suire, created the petition during the 2018 midterm election with the same goal but was unsuccessful.
The petition has gained momentum because it was picked up by the SGA and cosigned by the Young Democratic Socialist of Acadiana. The SGA continued to push the petition, and they created a survey asking student’s opinion on the matter.
“Canceling class on election day would not only bring awareness to the date, it would also allow some students the time needed to go to the polls,” the petition states.
According to SGA President Hailey Boutte, SGA brought this issue to University President Joseph Savoie’s attention, but he said it’s unlikely the university would outright cancel classes. However, it might be possible to excuse absences for students who missed class to vote.
“He’s not pushing for school to be canceled because of you know, the other hurricanes that we had, but he's working on getting students, faculty and staff excuses so that your work will be excused that day,” Boutte said in an SGA meeting on Monday, Oct. 19.
Suire said canceling class would be a great way to promote voter awareness on campus.
“The university canceling class and getting students out to vote is raising awareness for people who don’t participate in it.”
The voting percentage for college students is typically one of the lowest rated groups in the United States. It serves beneficial for the university to get students involved as the winning candidate could affect their students as well as the university.
“The politicians we’re voting for will affect education and how it is funded, so it serves beneficial for the university to get their students out to vote,” Suire said.
Some argue the university has had to make up too many days this semester between the two hurricanes and the already shortened semester.
“There have also been numerous grievances regarding Election Day as students have requested that it should be listed as a holiday in order to allow students to vote,” The SGA survey states.
According to those who responded to the survey, the majority of students prefer to make election day a holiday and make up the day on a designated Saturday, as done with previous scenarios.
When asked about what students should do if they want to vote and classes are not canceled, Suire urged them to vote early.
“There are two very common ways to vote early. One is a mail-in ballot, which every university student is applicable to do because they are a university student.”
Suire then listed the second option, to which she gave her personal recommendation.
“Voting early. There is a one-week period that encompasses the weekend so you can go home over the weekend and vote early that way.” Early voting in Louisiana occurs through Oct. 16 through the 27, excluding Sunday, Oct. 18, and Sunday Oct. 25. It occurs from 8: 00 a.m. through 7 p.m.
The ULCD continues to get students involved with politics through voter registration drives, forums sent through email, student political candidate events, and more to come. Suire said most students who participated with the voter registration drive say that they have been meaning to do this, but it was not until they were presented with it on campus that they registered.
With busy schedules and tasks of everyday life, getting involved with politics can be overlooked, but the ULCD, SGA and the YDSA continue to bring awareness about politics to students.