Students should show up to the polls and to class, says chair of Faculty Senate

Photo illustration by Olivia Havre | Photographer

By Caitlyn Meisner | Staff Writer, Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

With Election Day less than a week away, voters everywhere are planning when and where they will vote in the midterm elections. Communicating early on with professors and taking advantage of early voting and mail-in ballots is key to keeping a clean attendance record this election cycle.

Data has shown college students are consistently voting less than the general population. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2020, 51.4% of the young adult population voted in the presidential election, while 76% of those aged 65 to 74 voted.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that young adults — those aged 18 to 24 — have the highest rate of migration, which may impact their likelihood to vote consistently in elections.

Every time an individual moves, changes their name or alters their party affiliation, they must update their voter registration. College students who move around different states may find it difficult to change their registration every couple of years because registration deadlines vary by state.

Dr. Holly Collins, chair of the Baylor Faculty Senate and associate professor of French, said there are avenues to vote that don’t require skipping class on Nov. 8 for Election Day.

“I think that getting in communication early and often with your professor is always the key,” Collins said. “Sometimes there are things that come up, and a student has to miss class. But if a student lets me know well ahead of time, then I’m more often than not willing to work with them.”

Collins said the Baylor Faculty Senate has not discussed this matter and is not currently advocating for voting-related excused absences to the administration. She said she doesn’t think skipping class will be necessary because there are many opportunities to vote beforehand.

“Election Day isn’t the same as it was many years ago when [voting on one day] was your only option,” Collins said. “Baylor’s even offering transportation for students to do early voting. There’s also mail-in voting.”

Collins said there are also multiple alternative options available to voters if they are voting outside of the county or state.

“There are opportunities for early voting for students who have to vote outside of McLennan County, so it doesn’t seem to me like it’s really necessary to miss class on Election Day,” Collins said.

Collins said the attendance policy for the College of Arts and Sciences requires students to attend 75% of scheduled classes. The policy states that if students miss more than 25% of scheduled classes, they will automatically receive an ‘F’ in the course.

The Woodlands junior and external vice president Nick Madincea said the topic of missing class to vote has never been broached at Student Senate meetings, and in his opinion, it’s not worth a discussion.

“Students have ample time to vote between early voting and Election Day,” Madincea said. “I think, generally speaking, they can find one to two hours in their schedule to go vote without having to skip class.”

Madincea said students should take voting seriously. He said two out-of-state students recently came to his office wanting to register to vote, which he appreciated.

“There are a lot of students who kind of check out of politics and don’t really care and have the attitude of ‘politics doesn’t involve me and my life, and so I don’t really care,’” Madincea said. “But there’s a really sizable portion of students in our Baylor family who care about voting and want to get to the polls.”

Collins said she was happy to see President Linda Livingstone’s Oct. 27 Presidential Perspective mention the upcoming Election Day.

“Voting provides an opportunity to exercise one of our most important privileges and rights as Americans,” Livingstone said in the email. “It’s important to have a plan in place — and voting early may work best for your schedule. Early voting locations are now open in McLennan County in advance of Election Day.”

Additional resources on voting and Election Day can be found on the Baylor website, and updated results can be found on The Baylor Lariat website.