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A group of students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette believe in the importance of voting and are doing their part to ensure their fellow students feel the same way.

Five undergraduate students from UL Lafayette’s Department of Communication and campus Rotary Club chapter are encouraging their peers to register to vote. The students also help their peers stay informed about voting processes, and remind them of the importance of volunteering. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many polling sites without enough people to help on Election Day.

Elijah List, a senior from Springhill, La., majoring in strategic communication with a concentration in public relations, said the group has “one primary objective.”

“We don’t care who you’re voting for. We just want you to be registered and ready to vote,” List said.

List and four fellow students formed an advisory board earlier this semester to plan and coordinate their “Be the Change – UL” initiative.

Their efforts include a social media campaign, public service announcement videos, and interacting with fellow students in person when possible and via Zoom chats when it isn’t.

The initiative will continue until Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. So far, about 80 students have registered to vote or confirmed their registration to group members.

While the project began as a push to get students to register to vote, it has evolved. After several weeks of interacting with students, group members realized many of them were unaware of deadlines and details about the voting process.

“One student, for example, told me she hasn’t voted in the past simply because she couldn’t make it to her hometown at election time. She didn’t realize that college students are able to vote by absentee ballot,” List explained.

Maddy Myer, a senior from Baton Rouge majoring in strategic communication with a concentration in public relations, oversees the group’s Instagram and Twitter accounts. She also writes scripts for PSAs posted to social media and, like other members of the group, appears in videos.

She said young adults are often apathetic or uninformed because they don’t realize their vote – and involvement in the process – will make a difference. “That’s one of the key messages we try to stress, that their votes do count. And, we also let them know that it only takes a few minutes to register.”

The efforts are part of a community service project organized by Maniko Barthelemy, an instructor in the Department of Communication.

Each semester, Barthelemy organizes a community service project for students who want to volunteer. Past projects have included drives to gather supplies for people living in homeless shelters and collecting goods for food pantries.

“It’s important to me that students aren’t just leaving here with a degree and moving into the workforce, but leaving with a clearer understanding of how they can impact their communities,” she said.

Other student members of the “Be the Change” advisory board include Kaitlyn Johnson, Cameron Lion and Kourtney Williams.

Learn more about the initiative at Instagram and Twitter

Photo caption: UL Lafayette strategic communication major Elijah List is among five students participating in a campaign to encourage their peers to register to vote, educate themselves about issues and volunteer at the polls. List is shown in a still taken from a public service announcement video for the initiative. Image credit: Elijah List

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