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International affairs major Jillian Gaeta ’07 (Middletown, N.J.) conducted research last summer on voter registration and, with the support of the Landis Community Outreach Center, joined this fall with three other students — economics and business major Reco Collins ’05 (Stone Mountain, Ga.), Ryan Beattie ’05 (Worthington, Mass.), a double major in international affairs and Spanish, and Brandon McCloud (Easton, Pa.), a double major in anthropology & sociology and government & law — to organize Holla Back, Your Voice Your Vote, a coalition of students and organizations committed to creating an informed voting community.

About 35 people attended an informational meeting open to all students, especially leaders of extra-curricular groups. Some expressed willingness to work directly with Holla Back to organize events, while others promised to keep Holla Back informed of events planned by their organization so the group could help promote them.

By early October, Holla Back had helped register 218 voters and served another 289 who either requested an absentee ballot or re-registered in Pennsylvania. Since then, it has been focusing its attention on promoting election-related events sponsored by coalition members and mobilizing volunteers to get out the vote by providing information and issuing reminders. T-shirts designed with the assistance of the Public Information Office have been distributed at events to encourage attendance.

Election-related events on campus have included screenings of the presidential and vice presidential debates, a webcast on student political involvement, and Call it Democracy, a nonpartisan documentary by Matt Kohn on the United States electoral process; and talks by speakers such as Siobhan “Sam” Bennett, Lehigh Valley field director for America Coming Together, and Patrick Murphy, who as an Army captain advised elite paratroopers on offensive operations, initiated reconstruction efforts in Iraq, trained the new Iraqi security forces, and prosecuted Sheik Moyad, a Shia lieutenant of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Future events include:

  • an Election Night Party;
  • an Election Extravaganza from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, in the Farinon Center;
  • a brown bag organized by Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection on the presidential candidates’ stances on environmental issues 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, in Gagnon Lecture Hall, Hugel Science Center room 100;
  • another LEAP brown bag on the campaigns of independent Ralph Nader and Green Party nominee David Cobb 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27, in Gagnon Lecture Hall.

Members of the Holla Back Coalition include: supporters — Alternative School Break Club, Offices of the Dean of Students, Dean of Studies, Residence Life, and Religious Life, Landis Community Outreach Center, Residence Hall Council, and Student Government; organizers — Association of Black Collegians, Association of Lafayette Feminists, Brothers of Lafayette, College Democrats, Hillel Society, Lafayette Activities Forum, Lafayette Leadership Education Committee, Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection, Kirby Government & Law Society, Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government, and Questioning Established Sexual Taboos; and The Lafayette and the Office of Public Information.

Categorized in: Academic News