Posted by Joan Hanna on October 12, 2016 in Blog
Arab American students at Cleveland State University participated in a get out the vote event on Monday, October 10th, one day before Ohio’s registration deadline. The voter registration drive was held in collaboration with AAI’s Yalla Vote campaign, CSU’s Student Government Association (SGA), Arab Student Union, Black Student Union, Muslim Student Association, and Alpha Phi Alpha (Cleveland chapter). “The idea,” said Malek Khawam, a Senior at CSU and current SGA President, “was to reach all segments of our diverse campus.” They did just that.
This was part of a larger campaign, which combined their school mascot, the Vikings, with GOTV efforts encouraging millennials to participate in the electoral process, called “Vike the Vote.” Samia Shaheen, who is a sophomore studying International Relations at CSU, volunteered at the Yalla Vote table. “The entire event consisted of helping Cleveland State students register to vote, providing them with voting information, and helping them update necessary information required for voting. Many students were already registered, but there were also many students who were unsure about the registration process and/or didn’t know how or where to begin, so it was extremely fulfilling to be able to assist them in that.” Khawam added, “we found the event to be effective because the diverse group of student volunteers attracted a diverse population of the campus. We ended up registering a little over 100 individuals, and close to 400 attended the event and received samples of their ballots and their polling location.”
After the event ended, both students reflected on why voting matters, especially in this election cycle. Khawam mentioned how important inclusivity is. “It was incredible to see the diversity in our student volunteers and attendees. It's imperative that minorities and groups that feel they are underrepresented are using their voice in the political process and not exiting the political process." Shaheen agreed and commented on how local participation can translate into national political power. “Exercising one’s right to vote is the most basic civic duty one has, and it’s really up to millennials to embrace this power. This 2016 election is so important and will shape our country in many ways, so by registering others to vote, you are not only encouraging political involvement but more importantly, civic involvement. Not to mention, considering Ohio’s significance in being a battleground state during elections, it is vital that Ohioans know the importance of their vote and the impact it plays on election results.”