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Letters to Loyola: How Many Loyola Students Vote

November 4, 2021

Dear Loyola,

This is election season in many states around the country, and in New Orleans a week from Saturday. Voting gives me a thrill I can’t describe. I understand the cynical reasons why some folks don’t bother, but it makes me feel so good to have my say. My civics teacher in high school gave my class an assignment to volunteer on the campaign of our choice, and ever since that, I’ve been hooked. Knocking on doors – especially for those local races that matter so very much – waving signs at intersections – all of it represents a real commitment to democracy.

Too many people fought for the right to vote (and still have to fight) for us to take it for granted. And those of you caught between different countries and citizenships remind the rest of us exactly how precious is that right.

Every election, pundits bemoan the failure of young people to engage with democracy in particularly patronizing tones. So, how did we do here at Loyola? Conveniently, I just received a national report detailing our voter participation against other universities so I can tell you.

65% of Loyola students voted in the last presidential election, one percentage point below the national average. 83% of Loyola students are registered to vote (slightly higher than national average), and of those who are registered, 78% of you voted.

I’m very proud of those rates, but I’ll be prouder still when we get far closer to 100%. Student government has asked us to give a day off for federal election day, which we’ll do next year for the midterm elections. And we’ll keep helping you with unwieldy absentee ballots that require notarization. We’ll keep cheering you on as you make your own choices.

My hope is that Loyola produces not just graduates, but true citizens (in the broadest sense of that word).   I hope that you’ll spend your lives trying all of the different ways to make a difference. Here’s a checklist: march in a protest to build up pressure to do the right thing; take a seat at the table to solve complex problems with brilliant ideas; negotiate middle ground where it exists or hold your ground where you must; take the trouble to really understand important (but seemingly boring) civic issues. But most of all – if the battles of the past have enabled you to vote in the next election, honor those sacrifices and victories by making your voice heard.

Prayers and blessings,

Tania Tetlow