Just two weeks before the presidential election, a petition calling for classes to be held asynchronously on Nov. 3 has reached 424 signatures as of today.
The petition, created last Friday by USC student Arianna Bollens, says that “hosting synchronous classes on Election Day is an impediment on the necessary civic participation from students, faculty and other members of the USC community.”
By cancelling synchronous classes on November 3, students will have the opportunity to go to their voting center to cast their vote, the petition stated.
Bollens, a freshman studying sociology, created the petition as a way to remove barriers that may discourage students from participating in the upcoming election. “This petition’s goal is to give students, staff and faculty at USC and across the USC community the chance to [be] more easily be civically engaged, whether that means voting itself or helping others vote, giving people rides to the polls, or poll workers, [or] volunteering at the polls,” Bollens said.
Chika Ojukwu, a freshman majoring in journalism, signed and shared the petition after resonating with the challenges that synchronous classes pose. “I know some people’s reasons for not [voting] are because of scheduling conflicts, so I think because of the importance of the election, this election specifically, and our duty to vote, I feel like having that day off would allow for more students to do it.” Ojukwu said.
The coronavirus has made what was already a turbulent campaign that much more difficult for voters, and many students asserted that the stakes of this election are higher than those of the past.
“I think on the crux of everything that’s happened this year, with Black Lives Matter and honestly how the pandemic has been held too, you know, thousands of people dying, I think our voice is so important. So it’s even more important to be able to vote, no matter what.” Ojukwu said.
Coronavirus has heavily impacted the voting process, with vote-by-mail ballots becoming an increasingly popular method of voting in order to mitigate large groups of people gathering on election day. USC students are echoing concerns heard across the country regarding the integrity of this voting system.
Matteen Taghavi, a junior majoring in business administration, said “I would kind of point to the concern that some voters might have about the integrity of mail in balloting, especially with the kind of flagrant defunding of the post office that has happened earlier this year and whether or not that might be the most efficient way for their ballots to get counted.”
Students also expressed concerns that the pandemic will exacerbate long lines on election day, making voting in a person a time consuming activity. Nabiha Najjar, a freshman and business administration major, illustrated that it could be difficult for some students to vote in person while still trying to attend class synchronously.
“Maybe they’ll be doing different safety measures if you go to vote in person, and you might have to wait outside longer or wait in a line because you don’t want as many people in there,” Najjar said. “What if someone’s waiting in line for too long and then they miss a class?”