SGA resolution calls for virtual classes on election day

Mia C. Vu

A new resolution on general election days was endorsed by Student Government Association (SGA) at a meeting held on Oct.8.
 The SGA General Elections Days resolution calls for Augustana to have virtual classes on this year’s election day. 
The faculty council’s decision is to have classes still scheduled in person on the upcoming election day. This was due to the lack of time for a debate among faculties to be able to pass the resolution by Nov. 3. Instead, the faculty council sent a message to faculty encouraging flexibility for students attending classes that day.
Senior Carl Frasor, speaker of the senate, was the person who wrote the resolution. 
“Because of Covid-19 pandemic, faculties had worked really hard to make sure we meet the federal requirements for classroom hours, so it won’t be easy for the college to give students a full day-off,” Frasor said.
Although the matter of this year’s election day couldn’t be resolved as SGA desired, Frasor said he was still very happy with the fact that the faculty council invited him to have a conversation after this fall term to discuss the resolution further. 
The motion of the council acknowledged the importance of securing students’ opportunity to vote.
In the resolution, Frasor proposed that in future elections, the first Tuesday after November 1 will be declared a class holiday. He pointed out the U.S is one of the few nations that doesn’t have voting on a weekend or a federal holiday. Moreover, students’ mail-in ballots are rejected at a disproportionately high rate. The disproportion is expected to be more drastic, for this year a lot more people will be voting by mail because of the pandemic.
SGA President Kaitlyn Watkins believes that the new resolution serves as a reminder for students that their ballots do matter. She said students should be able to vote as easily as possible so that they would have a stake in what decisions were made at both state and national level.
 “At Augustana, we value engaged and ethical citizenship. Voting in the election is part of meeting that goal. The Senate obviously was in here to support the resolution because it was passed unanimously,” Watkins said.
Dr. Mariano Magalhães, professor of political science, said his very first thought on the SGA resolution was “timely” and “fantastic.”
“I have said this for years to my own students in my own classes that it is so unusual, even nonsensical, that we don’t have a holiday,” Magalhães said. “Participating in a democracy by voting is important enough for students to ask for flexibility. It is important enough to have election days approved as a holiday.”
“Obviously, there can be challenges as it will be one less day of content. But that’s fine, we can be creative,” Magalhães said.
  Magalhães commented that he was particularly impressed with how evident-based the resolution was.
“We live in a democracy, which is something we should all treasure, and part of that treasuring democracy is making it as easy as possible to vote on election days,” Magalhães said. “It is absolutely vital for any democracy to make that day of choosing your representatives, who are gonna be speaking on your behalf, a day off.”