Rogers State University Public Affairs Junior Jake Brillhart is leading the Civic Engagement Initiative, a coalition to educate and empower fellow students on their constitutional rights, their platform and their duty of democracy to voice their vote.
“One man, one woman, one vote — it’s the foundation of our democratic republic. Voting determines who will lead our communities, if special issues such as school bonds are passed, and, in Oklahoma, allows citizens to decide directly on changing our laws,” Brillhart said. “All of this is only possible if a person is registered to vote. Voter registration is the important first step to exercising your right to choose what kind of community you want to live in.”
The coalition was a grant developed and deployed through the program Ask Every Student and supported by the RSU Office of Student Affairs. The grant is underwritten by the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition and the National Conference on Citizenship. RSU received a $9,500 grant to implement a total student voter registration program during the fall 2020 semester.
“I am proud of Jake. His efforts to make a positive and lasting impact through this non-partisan voter registration program is commendable. He saw a need and took the initiative to apply for the grant and lead his peers to improve voter registration for RSU stakeholders. This type of student led activity through a credit national organization is what we want for our student body,” Dr. Robert Goltra III, vice president for student affairs, said.
More than 100 colleges and universities across the county participated in the Ask Every Student initiative this year. Institutions can participate as either a commitment campus, agreeing to integrate Ask Every Student programming into their civic engagement activities or as a codesigner campus, agreeing to not only adopt Ask Every Student programming but also develop resources for other institutions.
“RSU is participating as a codesigner campus, and right now, we’re tasked with developing tools and resources for recruiting, developing, and organizing student volunteers. Since being awarded the grant, RSU has also been asked to present at the Oklahoma Voting Summit and share how it’s creating a dialogue for student voting on its campus,” Brillhart said.
The history of voting is full of determined individuals who fought for the right ensure that government authority derives from the will of the people. The 15th, 19th and 24th amendments of our Nations Constitution were added to remove barrier’s which restricted Americans based on age, sex and race.
The Ask Every Student Program provides RSU students multiple convenient access points on which they may register to on the leaders who will represent them and our great nation. The university began fall classes in person and online on August 17. The next step is to plan student events and discussions on the importance of voter registration.
“We developed a comprehensive program design that is working to integrate voter registration and civic engagement into the fabric of our campus community. We want every student at RSU to be involved in a discussion on voter registration and why it’s important,” Brillhart said.
Oklahoma’s voter registration deadline for the November general election is October 9.