North Texas Daily

Black Student Union workshop encourages Gen Z to exercise voting rights

Black Student Union workshop encourages Gen Z to exercise voting rights

Black Student Union workshop encourages Gen Z to exercise voting rights
November 03
14:00 2022

The university’s Black Student Union’s Black Male Initiative organization hosted a workshop on Oct. 26 aimed to educate students on voting practices.

Hoping to get more Generation Z voters — particularly the university’s Black student body — invested in the election process, the workshop covered a variety of voting-centric topics. Navigating the voting registration process, learning how to avoid oppressive voting tactics and assessing the responsibility of being an educated voter were all discussed during the workshop.

“Many people don’t fully realize the impact our state and local elections have,” Zaavaun Gilmore, the university’s National Association for Advancement of Colored People treasurer and BSU Black Men Initiative member, said. “A lot of us are excited to vote for president, but it is the smaller elections that really impact us — which is what I hope people took from the workshop.”

Gilmore said the organization wanted to raise awareness of the importance of the Black vote.

“The first step in that is being informed, which is why we began with discussing voting history,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore was joined by other speakers, including Jermaine “JT” Turner, current Student Government Association and former UNT BSU president, and Denton precinct voting judge Donald Cox.

“Be sure to take advantage of early voting,” Cox said at the workshop. “Take your friends with you too. Early voting ends Nov. 4 in Texas.”

Cox, who recently published a book debunking myths about Juneteenth, went on to explain the in-person voting process becomes much more stringent once the early voting period ends.

“Right now, you have the luxury to vote anywhere in Denton, but once that deadline passes you can only vote in your precinct,” Cox said. “Oftentimes they will let you vote outside your precinct even though it won’t count. That’s one of the ways the system traps voters.”

University students can exercise their right to vote at the Gateway Center on campus, where a polling station has been set up. The campus is sectioned into four different precincts. Cox believes this is an intentional move meant to silence a liberal university community in an otherwise conservative Denton populace.

“[Generation Z has] the power to bring about change and vote for the changes you want to see,” Cox said. “This is a Democratic campus in a Republican region, so they are trying to spread you out. The system will try to make it hard [for students to vote], but it’s up to you to stay knowledgeable and use your Democratic power.”

Turner, who is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, did a presentation over voting best practices alongside a few of his fraternity brothers.

“It’s important to become educated on the issues that impact your community,” Turner said. “Once you know about a certain issue, it helps you better understand who to vote for since you know who is trying to solve that issue.”

The BSU event aimed to encourage Black, as well as young voters, to exercise their right to vote and know how to defend it when necessary.

“We [Americans] complain about issues all the time but during the election, we get the chance to do something about it,” Gilmore said. “If you hate what’s being done to you, vote out the people causing you to suffer.”

Image Credit: Jalyn Smoot

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Jalyn Smoot

Jalyn Smoot

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