This year's presidential election will make history, and The University of Texas-Pan American students, faculty and staff are gearing up to become more civically engaged, by attending the Register to Vote Rally, Oct. 1 from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., and Go Vote Rally, Oct. 28 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., both held at the UTPA Chapel Lawn.
Voting rallies will be sponsored by the Student Union. According to Jeanette L. Broshears, associate dean/interim dean of students, the Civic Engagement Committee is an adhoc committee made up of University students, staff and faculty, that was developed to try to increase engagement by the campus community in the civic process including community involvement, empowerment and citizenship.
"I think it is important for people to realize their voice is power. Their voice can be exhibited through their vote. If they feel certain things are important, then they need to find out which candidate, whether we are speaking about local elections or national elections, represent those issues and vote accordingly," Broshears said.
UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas believes that UTPA students should become more involved with the election and practice their voting rights.
"I believe that registering, voting and becoming educated about the choices in electoral politics is an obligation that all of us have. We owe it to those in the past who have sacrificed their lives and often their livelihoods so that we might have this freedom to choose. We owe it to those who will come in the future because the choices we make will determine whether that is a future of hope and expanded opportunity, or one of narrowed chances in life. We owe it to ourselves, because our country is in great peril, and we must choose our leaders wisely. Regardless of who wins the election, this new president and the many officeholders who are elected need to know that there is a strong, educated voting public in South Texas. We have to make ourselves matter to all officeholders, regardless of party - otherwise they can simply ignore us, and the way to matter is to register and to vote with intelligence," Cárdenas said.
Cárdenas said that she still remembers when John F. Kennedy was sworn in as president of the United States the January before she enrolled in college, and recalled his famous words that gave her inspiration, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." She said she wants UTPA students to be similarly inspired to serve their country, community and families. Citing the many challenges the United States faces today, Cárdenas said that she does not remember a time where the nation faced the level of peril it does today with issues regarding the economy, environment, energy, and war.
"It may be that this will be one of the most significant elections in American history. It surely will be the most significant election in the lives of UTPA students," Cárdenas said.
For more information about the Civic Engagement Committee visit www.utpa.edu/civicengagement.