By Laura Cooper
Last fall and in the years prior, the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) dominated the academic mall with manpower, registering students to vote in the year’s upcoming election. However, last semester the Undergraduate Student Government denied funding to the group, leaving NYPIRG’s office empty, and the job of voter registration in the hands of the administration.
With the upcoming November Presidential election sparking the interest of many students, Dean Paschkes, a dean of the students has organized the “Voter Registration Committee.” This group is spearheading the process of getting voter registration forms to and from the students before the deadline of October 10 for the general election.
The group itself is made up of student representatives from groups such as the Commuter Student Association, College Republicans, College Democrats as well as the Student Activity Board. Also represented is Andrew Morrison of NYPIRG, who is taking the role of organizing the students who’ve worked with NYPIRG in the past to get registration forms to as many students as possible. Morrison is in the process of guiding the Dean and committee itself, providing NYPIRG materials from their branch in New York City, as well as knowledge of where and how to get potential voters to register.
This year, the University has just over 400 new voter registrations completed, as opposed to last year’s new registrations that numbered in the thousands. The University has stood up to play a role in this process to give every student their right as citizens to vote. However, their active role on campus has yet to be seen.
The committee plans to set up informational table tents in all dining facilities on campus as well as to set up voter registration tables in the union and the SAC. Other student political organizations are working to get local candidates from all parties to campus so that those running can make their case to the student body, who make up a good number of voters in this district.
In order for those student residents, who live in dorms, to vote on campus, they would have to change their addresses and re-register at Stony Brook University to use the school’s polling place. With many freshmen and transfer students unaware of this technicality, the voter registration drive is trying to inform them before Election Day. This awareness was made public by NYPIRG standing outside the Student Activities Center door all of last fall.
USG President Jeffery Akita has sent his own representatives to the meeting. The USG office is also the drop-off site for completed voter applications, which can be accessed by a link on blackboard as well as on the main page of Stony Brook University’s website.
“We’ve taken that role, but in the last senate meeting a member of NYPIRG expressed that they are still going to continue with their involvement in voter registration,” said Akita in response to the job of filling NYPIRG’s registration gap. “They are still playing their part and are encouraging other people, but we, as USG, have started a street team and have started mobilizing people to register to vote.”
Though NYPIRG is without funding its dedicated student staff are still mobilizing students on campus to become politically active this fall. The administration’s efforts, however, will have to amount on the evening of November 4.