As the 2022 midterms approach, many Sacred Heart University students are eligible to vote. To help students feel more confident in their voter identity, multiple organizations have come together to promote voter registration.
SHU’s Uniting Hearts initiative, a campaign-based program created in 2021 by Dr. Mark Congdon, Jr., Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, is sponsoring “Empowering the SHUdent Vote.” According to a press release from the university, the campaign looks to help inform, prepare and encourage students to vote.
The university reported that the Uniting Hearts initiative prepares students through service-learning courses in the undergraduate strategic communication, public relations and advertising major. The initiative’s previous campaigns include advancing cultural immersion and acceptance, the importance of being financially literate, and promoting allyship.
“Each semester, Uniting Hearts has a different theme based on the interest in students and community partners,” said Congdon. “There was a lot of interest in civic engagement and helping students learn how to engage in our democracy.”
On behalf of the fall program, students had the opportunity to attend voter registration drives and various electoral events, such as a screening of “Iron Jawed Angels,” student panels and a trivia night at Red’s Pub.
Students in Congdon’s Advertising & Public Relations Campaigns course have partnered with other SHU organizations on this campaign, such as the Multicultural Center, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter, School of Communication, Media & the Arts (SCMA), the Office of Volunteer Programs & Service Learning (VPSL) and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program.
The organizations share a similar goal: getting students to recognize that their vote and voice matter.
“I think it is really important to let people know their vote matters, especially young people,” said Ana Mendieta, Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs. “I know for a fact there is not enough education out there on civic engagement. Being informed helps to really see the whole picture.”
“Challenges include students believing their vote does not matter, or they do not want to vote because it is not a presidential election,” said senior Anastasia Colagreco. “The midterm elections are also important. I hope this campaign increases understanding, and students see that their vote really does matter.”
The Uniting Hearts initiative also partnered with non-SHU community organizations. The Town of Fairfield’s Registrar of Voters/Elections Administration and the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Fairfield played a role in this voter registration campaign.
Margaret Mary Fitzgerald, Co-President of Fairfield’s LWV, spoke on the importance of utilizing the right to vote by college-aged students on a federal, state and local level.
“Voting is such an important civic right for all of us who are American citizens,” said Fitzgerald. “For me, voting is like a rite of passage. Getting my registration to vote was as important as getting my high school diploma, my driver’s license and acceptance into colleges.”
“State and local elections have a direct impact on the daily lives of each of us, including those of college-aged students, in countless ways,” said Fitzgerald. “By voting, we are participating in the promise of democracy; every person’s voice carries equal weight in each election.”
For students interested in voting but who lack transportation, on Nov. 8, the VPSL Office will be providing rides to and from polling locations between 12:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. within the Greater Bridgeport area.
“No vote, no voice. If you want change, you have to be actively engaged,” said Congdon. “Do not take things for granted, leverage the resources that you have at your disposal.”
For more election-related information, students can visit www.vote.org or VOTE411.org.