By Jenny Hottle, staff writer
Thursday, September 27, 2012

Originally posted on diamondbackonline.com

Standing behind a table outside the South Campus Dining Hall on Tuesday evening, James Jalandoni smiled as he watched a cluster of students begin filling out their voter registration forms.

Those students were just a few of the more than 150 who registered Tuesday through Terps Vote, a coalition of several campus student groups and university departments. Although the campus initiative has been active all semester, Jalandoni, the SGA’s governmental affairs director, and other members ramped up their efforts Tuesday as part of National Voter Registration Day, a nationwide event seeking to increase voter awareness and registration opportunities.

“It’s great to see that, nationally, we’re getting engaged as a college student base for voter registration,” said Shane Bryan, a Stamp Leadership and Community Service Learning liaison who is overseeing the Terps Vote program this year.

This year is an especially important year to vote, Terps Vote members said, because of the number of issues on the ballot. Students could not only help determine the outcomes of the presidential and congressional races, but also whether two contentious referendum items will be upheld: the state’s DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented students who meet a set of requirements to qualify for in-state tuition, and a law legalizing same-sex marriage.

“There’s a huge generational gap when it comes to that,” Jalandoni said of the two issues.

Several students said they want to ensure the younger generation’s voice is heard come November.

“They say that most people who vote are the elderly, so I feel students should register to vote because they should have as much say in the government as any other citizen,” said junior criminology and criminal justice major Stephanie Grey.

Terps Vote has been working to increase student voter registration since 2008, when it started as an initiative to bring the campus community together and promote voter registration and education on political issues to help students make more informed choices at the polls, Bryan said.

Julian Gooch, a freshman marketing major who also registered Tuesday, said he’s going to take part in this year’s election because he realizes with the state of the economy and unstable job market, the outcome will directly impact him and influence his life after graduation.

“The next election will have an effect on the economy,” he said. “It will affect the workplace, where I will be in four years.”

Terps Vote has registered more than 700 students so far this semester, Jalandoni said, but that’s less than one-fourth of the group’s goal of 4,000 students registered by the Oct. 16 deadline, Bryan added.

To meet that goal, members will continue tabling in Hornbake Plaza and outside the dining halls as well as talking to classes and other student groups about registration opportunities, Bryan said.

“We try to make sure we’re reaching different demographics and majors to spread the word as broadly as possible,” Bryan said.

Freshman psychology major Mickey Stebbing, who said he registered to vote the week he turned 18, said students need to get more involved in the political process if they want change.

“If you want to have some sort of say in your political system, you need to get as involved in possible,” Stebbing said. “If you complain about your political system but didn’t vote when you had the chance, then you’re just being a hypocrite.”

“Basically, it’s on us,” said Jalandoni. “If we don’t vote, it won’t happen. It’s really important that we get out there.”

hottle@umdbk.com

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