By Joel Delgado ’12 MS ’17
Like many Americans this year, freshman marketing student Christy Rivera still wasn’t sure for whom she would be casting her vote for in the 2016 presidential election.
Still, she joined approximately 50 other FIU students on Nov. 4 for a nonpartisan Election Pep Rally and a march to the West Dade Regional Library, the nearest early voting location to Modesto Maidique Campus; the goal was to give students an opportunity to cast their vote on the final weekday of early voting.
“I’m still on the fence, but I have two miles to think about it,” said Rivera, 18, an Honors College student voting in her first election.
Rivera shared many of the same feelings of the students walking with her, including disappointment with the major party candidates for president and with the divisiveness of the campaign season.
“All of it almost feels like reality television,” said 18-year-old freshman architecture student Brian Torres.
Yet, Rivera and her fellow students still feel the right to vote comes with a responsibility to make informed voting decisions up and down the ballot.
“I can’t not vote for either,” Rivera continued. “No matter the result, it’s going to be a historic election. I am given the right and privilege to vote and I don’t think throwing that away will do anyone any good.”
The event was put together by the FIU Honors College with the help of a number of other departments throughout the university as part of a series of events taking place in the day’s leading up to and following Election Day Nov. 8.
Organizers from the Honors College hope the early voting march and pep rally could be the beginning of a new election year tradition for the university, encouraging students to get involved in the political process and improve turnout among college students.
“These students are really civically engaged and this is an important way to show our students how important it is to go out and vote,” said Lilian Solorzano, director of Academic Support Services at the Honors College. “We are glad we were able to provide an outlet for them to do that.”
Students and event organizers met up just outside Deuxieme Maison building, where they were given free t-shirts and a rundown of the day’s activities. The group walked down 107th avenue to Coral Way and then walked east toward the library with FIU Police providing an escort along the way to ensure their safety. Passing cars occasionally honked their horn in support for their efforts.
“Walking out there and doing this together really allowed us to make a statement about how much this matters to us,” said Isabel Green, head of career services at the Honors College.
Once they arrived at the library, the group was immediately met by a flurry of supporters for different candidates handing out flyers and bombarding them with slogans as they made their way to the voting line.
After the whole group finished voting, Key Transportation provided the group with a free bus ride back to campus, where they were greeted with free pizza from the FIU Center for Leadership to celebrate.
“It’s great to be able to walk with other students… making my first voting experience a great experience,” freshman international business student Alberto Garcia said.