In just one short week, this tumultuous election season will finally be over and we will learn who America has decided to lead our country. However, the presidency is not the only election on the ballot, and North Carolina voters will make decisions that critically impact our state, university, and community. Whether it is the statewide response to and protections against COVID-19, the level of state funding provided for higher education, or the policies that directly impact the scholars who are allowed to join us at our university, your vote will have a profound effect on the lives of North Carolinians and others who call this state home. As engaged, global citizens, all members of our UNC Chapel Hill community have the responsibility to ensure their voice is heard by Election Day on November 3rd.
The Graduate and Professional Student Federation’s Civic Engagement Committee has worked tirelessly since August to ensure that all Carolina students are informed of how they can register and exercise their right to vote. However, knowledge isn’t enough; we must all take action and ensure our voices are heard at the polls. Voting is the sacred duty of all those who live in a democracy, and we are obligated to perform this service and help decide the fate of our nation. As President Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
This election has been the most contentious of our time. As the realities of living with a global pandemic continue to affect our daily lives, we are also combatting nearly daily struggles against the rise of misinformation and threats of civil unrest. We implore our Carolina community to judicially scrutinize all sources of election related information and to not allow nefarious forces at home or abroad impact our judgement and decision making. While social media has been invaluable to increasing our sense of community during these exacting times, it has also propagated dangerous disinformation designed to uproot our democratic process. We must be steadfast in our commitment to critical thinking and analysis and ensure that we, too, do not proliferate misinformation. To that end, the Graduate and Professional Student Federation website (gpsg.unc.edu) is continually updated with resources to help our community make informed, equitable decisions.
While voting has been a hallmark of our democracy since the writing of our Constitution, this right was not always afforded to all. We cannot fail to acknowledge the extent to which our predecessors fought to ensure this capability for all citizens, nor can we fail to recognize that there are still entities in our country who seek to suppress the voting rights of our most marginalized communities. We are all therefore obligated to make well-informed, justice-driven choices at the ballot box to ensure that the future of Carolina, our state, and our nation is dedicated to improving the lives of all who call this country home.
Whether by mail, early polling, or in-person on election day, I implore you to exercise this most fundamental right and paramount civic duty. Vote today.
Ryan Collins, GPSF President