With the final days to register to vote ticking away and the President election approaching, Cheyney University officials held a voter registration initiative for students at the nation’s oldest historically black college or university.
Thursday’s event, one of several in the past weeks helped to register over 100 students to vote for the first time and was held outside to maintain pandemic safety precautions.
Among those assisting students was Cheyney President Aaron A. Walton and his wife, Dr. Gloria Walton.
“As the first HBCU, Cheyney has always valued political and social engagement,” said Walton. “Voting is one of the pillars of social and civic engagement. By voting, you are becoming part of the broader social and political process. Regardless of how you cast your vote, your voice will be heard.”
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is the first graduate of a HBCU to be on a major party’s presidential ticket.
Thursday’s event was held in conjunction with the “Shield the Vote” initiative, a non-partisan educational and awareness campaign to encourage voters to physically protect themselves at the polls by wearing a face shield along with their mask in the 2020 elections.
Shield the Vote and its partners, Verizon and Acushield, also distributed donated face shields around the country to help voters protect themselves as they go to the polls. The face shields were provided to students who registered to vote at the event.
“For over 18 years, I have been at the forefront of analyzing voter trends and needs,” said Shield the Vote Founder, Onida Coward Mayers. “Citizens should not have to decide between their health and exercising their constitutional right to vote.”
Shield the Vote is distributing the donated shields to empower voters to “gear up” and go to the polls to vote. Anyone can donate face shields through www.shieldthevote.com and select if they want shields for themselves or if they prefer them to be donated. Donated shields are then shipped to organizations who agree to distribute them in their communities at non-partisan events.
“Many of our students will be voting for the first time,” said Irma I. Aguirre, executive director of student affairs. “We wanted to make registration easy, but more importantly to emphasize how important it is for them to exercise their rights.”
Cheyney’s fall semester started two weeks earlier than normal and will end Nov. 20 when students will depart for winter break and remain off-campus until returning for the spring 2021 semester.
Officials said the scheduling was to mitigate the risk of a coronavirus outbreak on campus during influenza season. The school is reviewing plans for the spring semester and will communicate them to the community when they are available.
The university also reported slightly higher enrollment numbers. In 2020 there were 624 students enrolled, up from 618 the year before.
Delco Times, Pete Bannan Pbannan@21st-Centurymedia.com