For students who have not walked through Dexter Lawn or visited the University Union (UU) Plaza recently, there’s a new group in town — SLO Get Out The Vote. The group is a student led nonpartisan organization dedicated to getting the students of Cal Poly registered to vote in the state of California.
With a general election coming up Nov. 2, organizers said it is important students get their voices heard.
Grant Frick, one of the group’s founders, said Cal Poly students need to make an impact and vote.
“You know there’s (around) 50,000 people in San Luis Obispo and 14,000 of them are Cal Poly students that could potentially be registered to vote in the city, so let’s get out there and make our voice heard,” Frick said.
Frick along with Tyler Holt and Gordon McCormick started the organization at Cal Poly this summer and have helped to register 1,500 Cal Poly students since Oct. 7.
“There was a 10,000 person goal but that was a kind of thrown out number; that was just being really hopeful,” Frick said.
The group has come to a more of registering 2,500 students by Oct. 18, the last day to register for the upcoming election.
To reach this goal, SLO Get Out The Vote is willing to do almost anything for people interested in registering.
“If you are in a hurry, we will walk with you to class and fill it out with you,” Frick said. “We’d love to do that.”
The idea for SLO Get Out The Vote came to the three friends when the Social Host and Unruly Gathering ordinances came into effect earlier this year. Their efforts also coincidide with a state mandate to have at least 15 percent of student population on California State University campuses registered to vote.
“Everyone went to the city council meetings and protested, but (the councilmen) didn’t listen to them because they know that none of the students ever get out and vote and most of them aren’t even registered in this county,” Holt said.
Although the councilmen vote for or against the ordinances, Holt said if the students have voting power, they can determine who becomes a city council member.
“We can vote for people who will stand up for students’ rights, then ordinances like (the social host ordinance) will not be passed,” he said. “We can vote against people that are throwing in all this stuff that is just targeting students.”
With so much in politics affecting students — such as budget cuts, state spending and tuition increases — students like Frick and Holt call on their peers to step up and vote for or against decisions that affect the student population.
“Basically the one fundamental thing that every citizen can do is they can vote, that’s how you make your voice heard,” Holt said.
Camellia Sarmadi, a communication studies junior, said students need to take a larger role in society.
“The students can’t complain about anything if they aren’t doing their civic duty,” she said.
The booth has been receiving a positive reaction so far, with many students recognizing the effort the group has put into registering students.
“I think it’s a good start, but we also need to change the psyche of college students too,” Sarmadi said. “They need a sense of urgency about all these things that are affecting us.”
Half of the battle is getting people registered, but the other half is getting students to show up to the polling places on Election Day said Frick.
“Thanks for registering, we love that you’ve done it, but get out and vote,” Holt said.
The SLO Get Out the Vote booth will be on Dexter Lawn from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday until Oct. 18.