Congress reconvened yesterday, just as many students headed back to school after their winter break. It’s the beginning of a very important election year and now more than ever, women’s voices need to be heard. Feminist Majority Foundation’s “Get Out Her Vote” campaign and your Campus Organizers can help your campus prepare for November 2012 by registering, educating, and mobilizing record numbers of peers on campus. I urge you to check out the HERvotes website for details about the “Top Ten Historic Advances for Women Now at Risk.” From Social Security and family planning (Title X) to Equal Pay and health care (The Affordable Care Act) there is so much we need to continue fighting for in 2012 Election.
In 2011, 24 states enacted 92 provisions that restrict access to abortion, shattering the previous record of 34 provisions in 2005. Also in 2011, eight states either passed restrictive voter identification laws or strengthened their existing voter ID requirements. These voter ID requirements disproportionately disenfranchise young people, immigrants, people of color, women, the poor, and the elderly. As we saw in the historic 2008 general election, the mobilization of students—especially young feminist women and men—has the potential to change the political landscape in many states and the country as a whole. Remember, the 2000 presidential election was decided by only 537 votes. A little known fact is that there is a federal law that requires colleges and universities to make voter registration and voting available to all students.
Under the Higher Education Act of 1998, colleges and universities are mandated to do this, yet most of them don’t fulfill their obligation. As students we must hold our universities accountable and demand greater access to the ballot box on our campuses. If your college campus doesn’t support voter civic engagement efforts, or doesn’t do enough for student participation in this process, know that there is a federal law on your side! With motivation and a federal law under our belt, we can begin developing a campus-wide plan of action. Here are a couple of suggestions the FMF Campus Team has for all you activists who want to make sure your voices are heard LOUD and CLEAR on Election Day.
- Get to Know YOUR Campus: Find out if your college campus offers voter registration forms and activities. How involved is your administration and Office of Residential Life with the civic engagement process? Are any voting locations on your campus, especially if large numbers of students live on and around campus? You can find out if your campus has polling locations by talking to your student government and Office of Student Affairs. You can also contact your National Campus Organizer if you want to work to get one implemented.
- Build a Strong Coalition: As part of a feminist club’s platform, we must continue to build strong relations with different student organizations and the student government to make sure our voices are heard. What’s a better way to send a strong message of solidarity than working with the peers around us? Remember: your activities must be non-partisan, and should include all campus organizations that are committed to registering students to vote.
The time to get a jump start on mobilizing your campus for November 2012 is NOW in order to ensure that our rights are at the center of the dialogue come election time. Contact your National Campus Organizer if you have any questions about GOHV or start a dialogue by writing your questions in comment section! We will be discussing strategies on how we can effectively register, educate and mobilize ourselves for the upcoming election at the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in March and we hope you will join us!
*Be on the look-out for our most updated GOHV campaign toolkit in the coming weeks.*