(JACKSON, Miss.) — JSU’s Student Government Association rallied campus groups and peers Tuesday for a march to the poll that saw many casting a ballot for the first time.
Anaiah Evans, vice president of SGA, organized two rallies – at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.on Election Day. The campus precinct destination was the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center. The walk to the poll from the Gibbs-Green Memorial Plaza took less than 15 minutes.
Evans, a junior communicative disorders major, said, “Voting is imperative. We’re giving peers an opportunity to march with their student leaders to the poll and to show that we’re all in this together. As long as we vote, we can swing the election either way.”
Evans and other leaders and groups also ventured into residence halls to encourage students to participate in the march.
Dr. Susan E. Powell, associate vice president for Student Affairs, said she was excited to see first-time voters head to the poll and commended the SGA for organizing the event. Furthermore, she said, “There are so many people who died and fought for us to have this opportunity.”
Powell recounted that one first-time voter shared that her parents never discussed the process of voting but was overjoyed to voice her opinion by voting. “I want them all to understand that their vote matters,” Powell said.
“This is a very special election, not just for national concern but for local as well. We need to make sure that we have the right people in place to help us. We want students to think about the future of their parents and other students who will be coming after them,” Powell continued. “They have power and a voice. Let’s do this. Vote. The JSU community always does what’s expected and what’s right.”
First-time voter Marissa Morgan, a sophomore business administration major from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was eager to cast her ballot.
“I feel it’s important for me to exercise my right to vote now that I have it because there wasn’t always a time when we could vote. Now that we can vote, I feel it’s important. With this vote, it will be very impactful. The decision is very important to the country and to me,” Morgan said.
She explained there was no arm-twisting when her mother encouraged her to vote. Morgan said she felt it was her civic duty to vote in Mississippi despite being far away from the politics of her home state.
“I like to see other people vote, too, especially my friends and others my age who are voting for the first time. They are taking it just a seriously as I am.” To her peers, she said succinctly, “Every vote counts.”
Aurion Taylor-Burks, president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and his fellow Greek brothers made their presence known, too.
“One of Alpha’s main principles is that ‘A Voteless People is a Hopeless People’,” the computer science junior said.
“We want everyone to understand that all Alphas vote, so it’s our duty to explain to others the importance of voting and how it can change our future,” said Taylor-Burks, noting that Alphas traditionally have been involved in voting and social issues during the early movements for racial equality and justice.
Jacori Daniels, president of SGA and also an Alpha, called the vote rally a “momentous occasion.”
The senior biology/pre-med major added, “For some students, it’s their first time. So, we stressed to them the honor of exercising the right to vote now, and in the future, and not be disappointed no matter what the results will be.”
Another important factor, he said, is that “we want to uplift the black community. As an HBCU, we want people to know that we are making a difference. Also, we want to make sure fellow students understand the importance of the vote by understanding the issues, too.”