CEEP Virginia Tech Fellow Addie Parker (far right) at a campus GOTV event.

Why I am Signing the Protecting the Rights and Safety of Student Voters in the Time of COVID-19 Letter

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life as we know it. As a college student, I feel as if my life has been flipped upside down. One day, I’m enjoying spring break in New York City, and the very next day I return home and my doctor is telling me I must quarantine and wait up to 14 days to see if I have contracted the virus after being in a hot spot. On top of the wait and worry, I must reconvene my education, online, the very next week. Suddenly, my time with my friends, professors, student orgs, and spring semester activities are ripped away and we are left baffled. A part of my life has just been paused and there’s no definite time when someone will hit play again.

We have all been affected by the pandemic in many different ways. The constant worry of what’s happening in the world is unsettling and it is easy to lose sight of things when life is progressing the way it is. During this difficult time, our government and elected officials have made many decisions regarding public health and safety. One of the major decisions is the $2 trillion stimulus package that recently passed Congress and was signed into law. College students, like myself, have been left out of the conversation for who gets the $1200 check. Once again, this is a bit unnerving, because so many of us have lost jobs and housing in our college towns and are being forced into situations that are not ideal for financial, mental and physical health reasons. With decisions like this, it can also be discouraging to young voters to see their elected officials leave them out of policies, further prompting the lack of participation in primaries and elections from younger voters.

However, I will not be discouraged by the passing of this bill, nor by the lack of initiative of elected leaders to reassure voters that participating in the November election will be safe and accessible, particularly for students like me who are uncertain of where I can live this fall. I am signing this letter because it is an outlet for me to hold our elected officials accountable during this time, as well as express the concerns of many college students across the country! I hope students, faculty, and staff at Virginia Tech and other campuses across the U.S. will join me in signing this letter. Now is the time for students to advocate for each other and demand that our elected leaders act to protect our democratic elections and include students in decision and policy making during this economic and public health crisis. 

This is truly an unprecedented time; however, I encourage all of my peers to remain strong and vigilant and join me in signing this letter. Protecting our votes means protecting ourselves both now and in the future, while ensuring our needs are understood and our voices are heard. 

Sincerely,

Addie Parker, CEEP Fellow

Virginia Tech

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