A barrage of student organizations flooded Titan Walk on Thursday, marking the culmination of Cal State Fullerton’s efforts to engage younger voters. This included the formation of the Associated Students’ Voter Registration Coalition and the universitywide hashtag used by President Fram Virjee, #TitansTurnOut.
— Fram Virjee (@TitanPrezVirjee) November 1, 2018
Students, staff and faculty were approached by members from several campus groups encouraging them to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. While each group on Titan Walk shared the goal of increasing voter turnout among college students, they did so with several different motivations.
For Pi Sigma Alpha (the CSUF political honors society) and the Political Science Student Association, that goal was to create a more politically-involved culture regardless of which candidates students vote for, said political association member Jakob Castro, whose organization sold American flag ribbons to encourage students to go to the polls.
“Even outside of election season, politics is everything around us. I think it’s something that we as a nation should care more deeply about, because it does affect our daily lives more than we think,” Castro said.
Only a few yards away, the Associated Students’ Lobby Corps mirrored this sentiment with a free barbecue in front of the Titan Student Union that also provided information to help students vote.
“I think it’s about empowering students to make their own choices. We’re not looking to make choices for students or tell them how to vote,” said Faith Colburn, advocacy coordinator for Associated Students’ Lobby Corps.
Like many of the organizations on Titan Walk, Lobby Corps is most visible during election season, but Colburn said they continue to be involved in politics year-round.
“It’s about engaging with our legislators and with our policy, continuing to make sure we hold our legislators accountable. I don’t think that stops from today, I think that it’s ongoing,” Colburn said.
Some groups advocated that students vote a specific way.
Nara Kim, field manager for the Korean Resource Center in Action, said the organization endorses student candidates that emphasized a few key issues, such as immigration, health care and homelessness, that the center believes will affect communities that are historically underrepresented.
One of the candidates the group endorsed was Duke Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant, who works in law enforcement and ran for the sheriff of Orange County.
Nguyen supports the notion of being a sanctuary state because he believes it will protect immigrants. He also wants to work on issues that the center cares about like decriminalizing homelessness, Kim said.
“It’s not illegal to be homeless. No human should be illegal, for any reason,” Kim said.
The center was not the only group to promote voting on a mission. Across the walkway was Rise California, a nonprofit that fights for free college tuition across the state.
Rise California encouraged students to participate in order to make the student vote more influential statewide.
“We’re trying to increase primarily the student vote so that elected officials in the future will know that students are having a high voter turnout. That will pressure them to hear our demands, hear our policy, hear what we want to see,” said Buomaro Vicente, the organizing manager for the group.
Regardless of their motive, every organization said this year’s election would see an improvement in the turnout of young voters.
“Look at the times now, I think there’s a sense of urgency. We don’t like the fact that we let people who aren’t really representative of us decide things for us. We want to start deciding things for ourselves now, the earlier the better,” Castro said.