Paradoxically, college-age Americans are well known for both high political activism and low voter turnout. But one group at UR is trying to change that. UR the Vote, a group of students organized under the Dean of Students office, has been running a campus-wide campaign to encourage voter registration and voter turnout in the UR community. UR the Vote is part of a program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. “We got approached by the Kennedy School,” Dean of Students Jody Asbury said. “They asked us to become part of a [national campaign].”Some students had been involved in a related effort before, headed by junior Mike Guerra, but the organization became linked to Harvard’s campaign over the summer. Senior Jesse Bailey, current chairman of UR the Vote, led that change. “I took over the reins of the organization from Mike Guerra,” he said. “I wrote the proposal over the summer to become part of [Harvard’s program.]” Sophomore Alex Pearlman is in charge of all their voter registration efforts this year. “Our first event was at [freshman] registration, and our first full-campus event was at the Activity Fair.”UR the Vote had set ambitious goals for themselves. “They’re trying to register 1,000 students, which is unheard of,” Asbury said. And after just three weeks since freshmen arrived on campus, they have made a strong start on that goal. “We have got a grand total of 330, so we’re a third of the way done,” Pearlman said at a meeting on Tuesday night. Wednesday, the group held another registration drive from 1 to 3 p.m. in Wilson Commons. Bananas, Blow-Pops and condoms were available to all who visited their Hump Day Registration Social. Some members of the group were impressed by how successful they were. “A lot of people are coming up to register,” sophomore Elizabeth Gall said, surprised that they didn’t have to aggressively seek people out. “It seems like a lot of people wanted to get involved and just needed help to do it.” Gall estimated that they helped about 30 students register to vote. The campaign will have two parts. From the beginning of the year until Oct. 8, the deadline to register in New York state, UR the Vote is concentrating on registering new voters. After Oct. 8, they will move on to an issues awareness effort. “Until Oct. 8 we’re focusing on registration, and after that we’re creating a marketing campaign to remind people to vote and inform them about the issues,” senior Sona Rai, the Marketing and Public Relations chairperson of UR the Vote, said. “Right now it’s really Alex’s show. You’ll see more of the marketing side on October.”Rai hesitated to comment directly on what that marketing side would include, because very little is finalized so far, but she did talk about some of their plans. “The one definitive event is the presidential debates,” she said. The presidential debates will be held on Sept. 30 and they will be shown in Hoyt Auditorium. The vice-presidential debates on Oct. 5 will be shown as well. Though he couldn’t give specifics yet either, Chairman Bailey said that the publicity campaign will be “similar to MTV’s Rock the Vote.”Voter registration and mobilization has focused more on voting as residents of Rochester. The group’s efforts were partially responsible for having a polling place brought to Helenwood Hall in the UR Medical Center. And next year, UR the Vote plans to bring a polling place to the campus itself. “We missed the deadline for [a polling place on campus], so we’re going to work on that for next year,” Pearlman said.However, UR the Vote also tries to help students from out of state who would like to vote in their home state. “If they want to register, we’re going to provide what they need to register,” Pearlman said. “If they want to vote by absentee, we’re going to provide what they need to absentee. We have about 110 [requests] for absentee ballots.””We can provide them information to register in their home state,” sophomore Abby Hunter said at Wednesday’s social. As a group, UR the Vote takes no side politically. “We’re strictly non-partisan,” Bailey said.”We have to be non-partisan,” Rai said. “[Partly because] we don’t want to scare anybody off.”Their efforts have been appreciated by some students they helped register. Sophomore Jarrod Orszulak was one such student. When asked if he would have registered anyway, he said uncertainly, “I’d like to think so.”But UR the Vote made the process much easier. “It was just convenient, really,” Orszulak said. “They gave me the paperwork, I sat, I ate lunch, and I handed it back to them when I was done.””[They were] immensely helpful,” sophomore Carly Topley said.UR the Vote is not the only group at UR involved with student voting habits. Professor of Political Science Richard Niemi is researching them. “Niemi has a grant with the Kennedy School to research college-age voter registration patterns,” Asbury said. “He’s the central in this area, so it seemed perfectly natural.””I got interested [in student voting] last year when a student wrote a very good honors thesis,” Niemi said. “One observation they made was that young people tend not to vote, and a second observation is that college students sometimes have a hard time voting.””What we’re interested in is turnout – if they’re getting to the polls,” he explained. “And this year, how students were or were not influenced by various acts, including UR the Vote.”Levesque can be reached at

An open letter to all members of any university community

I strongly oppose the proposed divestment resolution. This resolution is nothing more than another ugly manifestation of antisemitism at the University.

Notes by Nadia: The myth of summer vacation

Summer vacation is no longer a vacation.

A reality in fiction: the problem of representation

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