SGA hopes to energize young voters with new initiatives


Members from SGA attended the Western Pennsylvania Student Voting Summit on Feb. 22. to learn more about how to encourage voting on college campuses. Photo credit: Autumn Bohner

Emma Rushworth, Contributor

Marywood’s Student Government Association (SGA) is preparing to help motivate young voters for the 2020 presidential election.

Members from SGA attended the Western Pennsylvania Student Voting Summit on Feb. 22. to learn more about how to encourage voting on college campuses.

Joining Marywood at the summit was the University of Scranton, Bloomsburg University, the University of Pennsylvania, LaSalle University and the host school, the University of Pittsburgh.

Director of the Office of Student Engagement Michael Kalage helped coordinate the trip after the national organization that runs the event reached out to Kalage to invite members of SGA to attend.

Kalage said he believes the students walked away from the summit with new ideas that will energize student voters.

“I think the most valuable takeaways were just connecting with other schools,” said Kalage. “We learned a lot about making significant strides on getting students more involved and increasing voter turnout and registration rate. We left with a lot of ideas and enthusiasm.”

Junior Computer Science major and SGA President Alexis Palys attended the conference and said a speaker from the Pennsylvania State Department emphasized the importance of getting involved in Pennsylvania elections and gave attendees resources to fact checking online information.

According to Palys, some of the breakout sessions at the summit included ways to form an argument, voter involvement among college students and ways to gauge the level of voting engagement on campus. Palys said she is hopeful to use these new techniques to help at potential town halls on campus.

To formulate a more concrete plan, the committee is waiting on data from The National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) to learn more about voting habits among Marywood students. The data will then be used by SGA and the Office of Student Engagement to pinpoint what initiatives will benefit students and staff the most.

Palys said she expects more interest to come next semester as the presidential election draws closer.

“It’ll be easier to do events like town halls and information sessions for students,” said Palys. “A lot of people in Gen Z almost don’t have an interest in politics so doing an information session can help them learn or start to understand how it affects people”

According to Palys, there is also talk of creating a student organization that is dedicated solely to student voter engagement on campus.

“This is something we’ve been speaking to Sister Mary about and she’s really all for it. We’re hoping that if Sister Mary speaks on our behalf about it that it might get more people to catch on,” said Palys.

Palys said she hopes that these efforts start conversations across campus.

“Although you may feel like your voice doesn’t matter and statistically it might not, the fact that you’re standing up for something and your involvement and passion might spark something for another person,” said Palys.

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