Meredith College: Suspend Campus Activities on Election Day

Meredith College: Suspend Campus Activities on Election Day

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Olivia Slack started this petition to Meredith College

We, the Meredith College community, request that the College pause campus operations on Tuesday, November 3, in order to give students, staff, and faculty the opportunity to exercise their right to vote without the worry of missing school or work.

Following an earlier statement issued by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity and other student organizations, the Meredith College community would like to follow their precedent. While Election Day is not a national holiday, the gravity of the day itself cannot be understated. If Meredith College takes the step to ensure their students and employees are not confronted with barriers to voting because of the College, this will demonstrate to the community that Meredith College values civic participation and the enfranchisement of all voters.

We recognize that the early voting period in North Carolina is an excellent time to exercise one’s voting rights; according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), 48% of Meredith College students voted during the early voting period in 2016. However, with the semester being compressed this year due to the pandemic, many students may be too busy to take the time to vote early. Additionally, if school is not cancelled on Election Day, students who have not requested their absentee ballots, had a chance to re-register, or who live a long distance from school will have to miss class lest they forfeit their civic responsibility.


We also know that students, staff, and faculty of color and low-income members of Meredith College’s community are disproportionately affected by barriers to voting. Because Election Day is not a national holiday, those who cannot afford to miss work, those who work multiple jobs, and those who must care for their children are much less likely to be able to make it to the polls. Meredith College could at least partially remove this burden from its employees and students by guaranteeing them that they will be free of commitments to Meredith on Election Day.


According to the NSLVE and Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, only 40% of eligible college students exercised their right to vote in 2018. This is lower than the national average of 53%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. At Meredith College specifically, 63.9% of eligible students voted in 2016, according to the NSLVE. While this is higher than the national average, nearly half of eligible students still didn’t vote. College students often have irregular schedules and may be both taking classes and working, leaving little time on Election Day for them to make it to the polls before they close. While some professors have taken the step to cancel class on November 3, guaranteeing that students will not have to attend would lift a weight off many students’ shoulders.


We challenge Meredith College, as a small, private college known for empowering women, to champion the rights of those in their community, including students, staff, and faculty. If one community member must choose to skip work or school in order to vote, Meredith College has failed to live up to its promise of encouraging strong-minded civic leaders to let their voices be heard.

As an alternative to the full day of classes being paused, we ask that all activities be suspended after 2 p.m. on November 3, which will still decrease barriers to voting. Additionally, the College could consider scheduling a make-up day, for example on a Saturday or the day following the current last day of class, if federal guidelines regarding the number of minutes per course are a barrier.

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