By Grace Cavanaugh, Cassandra Mathews and Dr. Ghislaine Lewis
As the United States grapples with a global pandemic and rising social tensions Tuesday, Nov. 2 marks the end of what has been a contentious electoral season.
At the University of Lynchburg , the Center for Community Engagement along with faculty, staff and students across the campus have been engaged in encouraging the community to participate in the electoral process.
Director of Community Engagement and Bonner Leaders Cindy Ferguson said she hoped students will be able to see that they have a voice and be able to learn to listen to all sides of the issues as they have constructive, civil, respectful conversations with others.
Ferguson noted, “My motto is that ‘it takes all kinds of people to reach all kinds of people,’ and we are always better when we work together to meet the needs of our communities, states and nation.”
Vice President for Inclusive Excellence, Dr. Robert Canida said, “Students who exercise their right to vote, should feel a sense of fulfilling a civic duty. My hope is that they realize that their vote counts, but equally important, that they have participated in such an important process whereby they can hold leaders accountable.”
Many students at Lynchburg at Lynchburg are ambivalent about this year’s elections but are still committed to exercising their right to vote.
Junior Niraly Patel said, “I’m sad and empowered at the same time. I wish our political system allowed for more competent candidates to have a chance, but money and connections are inextricably tied to success in the presidential race. I am empowered because it will be my first time exercising my right to voet and although the choices aren’t ideal, I will be able to vouch for myself and minority groups around the nation.”
While Amanda Linehan said she was not particularly excited but understood it was part of her civic duty.
Other students like senior Julia Melone said, “I’m glad I get to vote because so many Americans are being denied that right but I’m definitely dreading the election itself.
Ferguson cautioned students, she said, “Don’t listen to anyone that says that you are too young or know the issues well enough to vote. You have a voice, be empowered to use it.It is important not only to vote but to be an informed voter. Know the issues that are important to you and the candidates’ stands on those issues.There are many people who have fought for your right to vote and your responsibility as an American citizen should not be taken lightly.”
Despite the national concerns around free, fair and safe elections, Dr. Canida noted, “What a wonderful feeling it is to have your voice heard, especially by casting your vote. College age students will be this Nation’s future leaders! Their action to vote will drive the future of the United States.”