A Series of Events on Campus to Prepare Students for Elections

By
September 23, 2004

A series of on campus events will help educate students and
local community members about the upcoming presidential elections
in the weeks leading up to election day.

These include a screening of Michael Moore’s latest film,
Fahrenheit 9/11, as well as an on-campus polling place and absentee
ballot drop-off location in the Cowell Building.

A group of staff members and students, including some who are
involved with the new on-campus Equity and Access committee, have
planned some events on campus that will focus on registering
voters, raising awareness around political candidates and the
issues that they stand for, as well as serving as a site for voters
to turn in their absentee ballots.

A screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 will take place at the Greek
Theater, located behind the Concert Hall, on the evening of Sept.
29 at 7:30 p.m. This free event, sponsored by Student Activities at
the Office of Student Life and the Mills Art Museum, will give
students the opportunity see the film, which won Best Picture at
the Cannes Film Festival this year and was the first documentary to
debut at #1 at the box office.

The film examines the effects of the presidency of George W.
Bush and includes footage of his immediate response to news of the
attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11,
2001.

Stephan Jost, director of the Art Museum has organized an event
called “We’ve Got Issues: Chocolate and Politics,” which will
happen earlier that same evening at 6 p.m. Jost, who will also
provide desserts for the evening, said students will have the
opportunity “to hear about the [election] issues very
informally.”

There will also be an opportunity for students to register to
vote, as well as a dance performance and an exhibition of textile
art.

Jost plans to start a dialogue among students about what
particular political and social issues our community faces and
said, “Instead of just saying, ‘I’m for [John] Kerry,’ people
[attending] can vote [on] their top three issues.”

Over the summer, sophomore Daisy Gonzales, a member of the
Equity and Access Committee, and senior Annie Flores, attended a
conference in New York City called “Vote, Run, Lead.” The
conference addressed the political impacts and logistics of voter
organizing, with a special emphasis on women and college
students.

According to conference presenters, only 44.3 percent of women
aged 18-24 years old voted in the 2000 presidential election.
Gonzales said that these statistics left an impression on her and
Flores.

“We left the conference saying, ‘we need a voting poll here [at
Mills],'” Gonzales said.

Flores and Gonzales worked with another Equity and Access
member, sophomore Annie Abernethy, to bring attention to the fact
that students on campus do not have access to an on-site polling
place and raised the idea that having one could serve students as
well as neighborhood residents.

The Office of Student Life confirmed that Mills will have a
polling place and absentee ballot drop-off location, thanks to the
students’ efforts.

Abernethy also attended a youth-centered conference during the
summer, where William Upski Wimsatt of the League of Pissed-Off
Voters spoke. During his speech, he asked attendees to make a
commitment to helping register voters and specifically to become
involved in swing states.

Abernethy said she felt inspired and that she “really had to do
something to get involved.”

She and Gonzales also noticed that in the California recall
election in 2003, Mills students were faced with unnecessary
difficulties at voting polls, such as a lack of forms and mistakes
in the voting registers.

Like many college students, in the past Abernethy had questioned
the impact that voting has and said, “[Before I] didn’t think it
mattered so much…but this election does.”

The U.S. Department of State reports that women will play a key
role in determining the outcome of this election.

More events will include a noontime discussion of Fahrenheit
9/11 on Sept. 30 at Adams Plaza; an on-campus debate between
representatives from the Green, Republican, and Democratic parties
on Oct. 6 at the Student Union; a screening of Unprecedented, a
film about the Florida election recall on Oct. 13; and a teach-in
on voter issue awareness on Oct. 27.


A Series of Events on Campus to Prepare Students for Elections was published on September 23, 2004 in News

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