Suffolk University has long been known for our engagement in the public sphere. From our academic and co-curricular programs to our location, we are well positioned to promote public service and participation in a variety of forms, and we do. Indeed, our central value proposition is that we foster transformational learning opportunities that prepare our students for professional success and for positive impact on the communities in which they live and work.
Engagement in the electoral process—no matter our political party or the policy views we hold—is one critical way all of us can positively impact our communities. Our very commitment to voting is in and of itself a statement in support of democracy, and a necessary condition of its continued viability.
With this as context, I am very proud of our collective engagement in the electoral process and our continued efforts to promote voter participation across campus. If you are wondering whether Suffolk votes, the answer is yes, we do! In 2016 and 2018, we received the silver seal from the ALL-IN Campus Challenge for voter registration and engagement efforts. We are also part of the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement that tracks voter participation and turnout nationally.
Our institutional commitment is evidenced by the hard work of the Suffolk Votes committee, supported by our Center for Community Engagement, the Political Science & Legal Studies Department, and the Institute for Public Service. The committee is made up of faculty, staff, and student leaders who educate and engage the Suffolk community in the electoral process by making it as easy as possible to register to vote and to exercise that right. In 2020, 84% of Suffolk students who registered to vote did so.
In other words, getting people registered is key. This year Suffolk Votes Ambassadors—who are students trained in the registration process—are working hard to encourage their peers to register. They plan events to raise awareness about the upcoming elections and the importance of voting, including a voter engagement table at the Causapalooza Club Fair on October 18, 12:30 p.m., Sawyer Building, 2nd floor. On October 19 at 6 p.m. we invite you to join a webinar panel discussion, Our Issues, Our Voices, Our Votes: Youth Civic Participation Today, hosted by Suffolk’s Political Science & Legal Studies Department, Ford Hall Forum, The Washington Center, and GBH Forum and Network.
Yes, Suffolk votes, but let’s all work to foster even greater participation across our community and ensure that all who are eligible are part of the electoral process. Elections do have consequences that impact us all. No matter your race, religion, political persuasion, gender identity, or socio-economic status, exercise your voice in the public sphere by registering to vote and filling out your ballot.
Marisa J. Kelly