The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
As our country stares down the oncoming midterm elections and recognizes the turning point at hand, it’s never been more clear that we have a choice to make.
It’s easy to ignore the problems our country faces when we come from a place of privilege. As a byproduct of attending the most expensive public university in Ohio, many of us come from places where we don’t have to think about the quality of our public schools, where our drinking water comes from, or what the implications may be when 46 percent of Oxford’s community is living in poverty.
It’s easy to think our voices don’t matter. Gerrymandering and the onslaught of political media coverage is enough to discourage our already dismally apathetic voting base.
It’s easy to forget that just under 100 years ago, women didn’t even have the right to vote and racial segregation was a formal reality less than 60 years ago – and still exists in less blatant forms today.
But despite all of the easy ways out, of failing to own up to the role we all play in the political environment we are now drowning in – there are still ways out of the storm.
Every single eligible voter on this campus should vote, and our university should empower us to do so by giving students, staff and faculty the day off.
Universities all over the country have recognized how important voting is. The University of Hawaii, Princeton University and Columbia University all give students time off around the first Tuesday in November to ensure that students and university affiliates have the necessary time to vote.
Many universities have decided to put an emphasis on student turnout at the polls. Miami has a duty to do the same.
Voting is our civic duty. It’s the foundation of our democracy. But when you have a chemistry exam at 10 a.m. and a marketing presentation at 3 p.m., your civic duty falls to the wayside when you don’t feel like your life outcome is personally at stake, but your GPA might be.
Depending on turnout, polls can often be overcrowded with long lines which force voters to wait before they are able to cast their vote. Students pass on voting because it might be a time-suck.
Know what else sucks?
Only 58 percent of eligible voters voted in 2016.
Miami has the ability to give everyone on campus the opportunity and time to vote, which will only serve our community well.
No one should have to choose between making their voices heard and getting participation points for class or earning a minimum wage. When that choice is forced upon us, those who don’t think they need to vote won’t or those who are financially strapped won’t risk it.
If the university fails to take action, professors can take matters into their own hands: Cancel class on election day, and teach this generation to care about the consequences of actively choosing those who will lead us.
Once students are given this option, they’ll only have themselves to blame if they fail to use all of the opportunities that have been handed to them.
So, students: Stop lying to the volunteers on campus who ask if you’re registered to vote. Register so you can vote in the next cycle. Go to iwillvote.com and find out where you vote if you’re unsure. If you can’t swing voting in person, apply for an absentee ballot.
We must, “be heroes for our communities and future generations,” as Ady Barkan argued in his essay on dying and looking for answers in the face of unimaginable tragedy–including tragedies like wage inequality, unaffordable healthcare and power that is concentrated in the uppermost echelon of our society.
It would be easy to cower under these circumstances, but we all have the responsibility to do better. Miami, let us go vote–it’s literally the least you, and the rest of us, can do.