The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Students to vote on “Day off for Democracy” referendum

Photo by Marquette Wire Stock Photo
The MUSG ballot will be emailed out to every student on Thursday.

In addition to voting on Marquette University Student Government leadership positions this week, students can also vote on a resolution to suspend classes on election days.

“Day Off for Democracy” is a resolution authored by Robert Miller, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Nicole Laudolff, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. It’s a suggestion to the university to cancel classes for the presidential, midterm, statewide and local elections.

Marquette’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, NAACP and Marquette College Democrats endorsed the legislation.

Laudolff said that Marquette students should not have to make the decision to be a good student for the day or be a good citizen.

“Most of the arguments point towards the fact that a lot of students have very busy schedules, whether they juggle not only classes but internships or jobs. Some of them are commuters, so getting to campus and back home can be inconvenient,” Laudolff said.

The bill passed unanimously through the student senate and will now become a referendum. A student referendum is a public question that would gauge student support on whether or not “Day off for Democracy.” Results from the referendum could be used for a proposal or recommendation to the university administration.

“MUSG doesn’t have any jurisdiction over the academic calendar, so the best we can do is issue recommendations. And this way, all students have the opportunity to make their voices heard,” Laudolff said.

Miller contributed to the resolution by looking into what other universities do with election days. He found that in states such as Illinois and West Virginia, election days are a state holiday, so a lot of universities in these states suspend class.

“There are two reasons as to who having a day off is necessary: One it’ll be beneficial to both sides because they’ll be able to mobilize their voters, and also voting in general is a basic principle in which our nation was founded and participating in civic engagement is very important,” Miller said.

Amber Wichowsky, professor in political science and director of the Civics Dialogues program, has done research on voting participation and the obstacles people face in the voting process.

“I like to think about ‘Day Off for Democracy,’ not as a day off, but rather kind of elevating the importance of educating students for the demands of democracy,” Wichowsky said.

Wichowsky poses an option for the university to host events for students to come talk about the election or hold panel discussions on campus on Election Day and the days leading up to the election.

Miller and Laudolff also think the university can improve the resources they provide for students during election seasons.

Laudolff said there are organizations at Marquette that help students with the voting process, but a lot of those organizations are funded by grants and other sources, so it’s not guaranteed that these resources will be available for students year to year.

“Voting works best when universities have a really robust civic culture. What does that look like? That looks like information on how to register to vote as part of student orientation, where faculty are sharing information about how to vote and what’s needed to vote, but it’s also beyond that. It’s about a campus where students are really talking about important social, political and economic issues,” Wichowsky said. 

Laudolff worked as a poll greeter this past November, and she noticed how many students had issues with the voting process. She helped an individual get his documentation set up to vote, but he couldn’t make it to the polls before he had to go to class. 

“Marquette is an institution that celebrates service, and in the 21st century service requires participation in the democratic process,” Laudolff said.

Miller said this is the first time a referendum has been authored to propose something like this.

“’Day Off for Democracy’ is highlighting and creating opportunities and spaces and making it visible on campus that being civically engaged is part of what it means to be the difference,” Wichowsky said.

The MUSG ballot will be emailed out to every student on Thursday.

“In order for democratic processes to be healthy, participating in them should not only be possible but practical,” Laudolff said.

This story was written by Sophia Tiedge. She can be reached at [email protected].

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Sophia Tiedge
Sophia Tiedge, Executive News Editor
Sophia is a sophomore from Arlington Heights, IL studying journalism. This year she will serving as the Executive News Editor after spending last year as a news reporter. In her free time, Sophia enjoys reading, working out and going to new places with her friends. This year Sophia is looking forward to collaborating with others and learning more about what happens on campus.

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *