Civic engagement on full display as Election Day approaches

SF State students registering to vote at a table in the quad.

Two SF State students register to vote during a voter information fair held by Associated Students in early October. AS hopes to register 3,000 new voters before the election, and faculty have also been hard at work helping students and the public better understand the issues on the November ballot.

Campus gears up for Nov. 8 with voter registration drive, public lecture series and more

Allyson Borunda, a San Francisco State University senior, stopped by the Associated Students’ voter registration table in early October to update her address and make sure everything was squared away for her to cast her ballot on or before Nov. 8. Like thousands of SF State students, she is voting in her first presidential election.

“If you’re going to be part of this political system you should have a voice,” Borunda said. “If you’re going to be part of the discussion, you should participate in voting, at the least.”

SF State students, faculty and staff rarely shy away from political activism and engaging with important issues, and as a long and often contentious election season heads toward a conclusion, the campus is living out its commitment to participatory citizenship in full force.

“It’s a very exciting time to be part of the SF State campus and seeing this high level of civic engagement unfold,” said Noriko Shinzato, associate director for government and community relations. “As a college campus, it’s important that we provide an environment where students, faculty and staff are able to express and learn about the various issues, as well as celebrate our democracy and inspire future generations to get involved.”


“It’s really important for our generation to pay attention to what’s happening around us and not be turned off, angry or disheartened, and to speak up because when we speak up, things do change.”

Celia LoBuono Gonzalez, Associated Students Vice President for External Affairs


In early October, Associated Students held a two-day voter information fair to kick off their effort to register 3,000 voters by the Oct. 24 state deadline. At the event, students, faculty and staff met directly with representatives from San Francisco candidates running for office as well as those advocating for ballot initiatives.

“It’s vital for everyone to be informed about the decisions that are happening in the community that may or may not affect them, but they nevertheless have the ability to speak up about,” said Associated Students Vice President for External Affairs Celia LoBuono Gonzalez.

There is also frustration at a political process that seems to leave young voters and people of color out, as several students expressed during an event hosted this week by the SF State Speech and Debate Team. Following the final presidential debate, speech and debate team members from SF State and City College of San Francisco shared their thoughts on Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s performance, style and content as well as whether or not they addressed the issues important to them. Several implored their fellow students to register to vote and to remember the local and statewide races where they can also make a difference.

Faculty members have been hard at work to help students — and the public — better understand the issues and candidates on the ballot. The 2016 Presidential Election Public Lecture Series is open to the public every Tuesday through Dec. 13 and features a panel of SF State faculty experts from various disciplines exploring a range of topics, including the criminal justice system, the Electoral College, immigration, the economy and foreign policy.

Once the election is over, the class doesn’t go away, said Professor of Political Science Joel Kassiola, the course co-creator.  “One of the course highlights is the analysis of the election results,” he said. “That’s followed up by discussion and speculation about what the new administration will do. The course ends with presentations about ways everyone can stay involved in public affairs during the next four years leading to the 2020 election.”

As Nov. 8 gets closer, LoBuono Gonzalez says it’s critical for students and other younger voters to make their voices heard.

“It’s really important for our generation to pay attention to what’s happening around us and not be turned off, angry or disheartened, and to speak up because when we speak up, things do change.”

SF State will have an on-campus polling location where students and others can vote or drop off their mail ballots. Visit the Secretary of State’s website to find your polling place. 

Last update: 
2016-10-28 16:36
By: 
jm