Seminole State College students and community members attended the school’s District Board of Trustees meeting Jan. 27 to call for early voting on campus as well as defending student-run club social media rights.
Deborah Poulalion, the event’s organizer and candidate for Seminole County supervisor of elections, encouraged students to attend the meeting to offer a student presence. She also organized alumni and community members who are passionate about the issue.
“I think it’s important for the school administration to know that students want to vote on campus and that the community supports them,” Poulalion said.
The group made up of 15 people met before the meeting and spoke passionately on early voting and social media rights, and the hope of influencing the board’s viewpoint.
One student, Aaron Ohmstede, spoke about the positive effects of voting on campus.
“I think it is important for young people to vote, [and] if you put an early voting station where people are at, it will make them more likely to vote,” Ohmstede said.
Another community member expressed the importance of young voters: “I’m here because the young voters is the voter that’s going to make the difference in this election, and I believe that they should be given every opportunity to vote [to make it easier for them].”
During the meeting, students in attendance did not hesitate to participate.
Patrick Gustafson, student president of the College Democrats of Seminole State College, served as a student’s voice in addressing the Board of Trustees.
Gustafson rallied for the group with a thoughtful speech and insisted that “While there are still a lot of barriers and obstacles in the way of having as great of a voter turnout as possible, [having early voting on campus] would be one huge step in the right direction.”
Students also said they were concerned about a new rule for regulating school club social media postings.
Currently, school officiated club officers can post to their organizations’ social media accounts without direct approval from an advisor, however, a new rule that is in the process of finalization states that students would need approval from club advisors before posting.
Nicholas Goosen, vice president of the Unity! Gay Straight Alliance, expressed support for continuing the school’s current social media policy. He mentioned that the new rule would interfere with the club officer’s spontaneity in posting to social media, something that would be difficult to capture if dependent upon approval for each post.
Goosen also brought up the importance of first amendment laws, and SSC’s obligation to set an example for other schools to follow.
During the District Board of Trustees meeting, Gustafson spoke against the new rule.
“I beg of you, whenever this matter comes to your table, think of the Constitution, and think of our right to freedom of speech,” he told the Trustees.
Neither early voting nor the proposed social media rule were on the agenda to be specifically addressed. The group of students and community members made plans to attend the next meeting on Feb. 17.