Chico State’s engaged students

They’ve earned the right to vote in local elections

The author is president of Chico State University.

I have read with interest and appreciation the many letters and editorials that have appeared in the Chico media revealing the deeply contradictory and flawed nature of the pro-Measure A arguments. Although they claim they are primarily motivated by a desire to strengthen interest in local elections, many who support this measure are, in fact, focused on restricting the most basic of American democratic principles, namely, the right to vote.

Among the arguments I have found particularly objectionable are those that reflect a wholly uninformed and dismissive attitude toward Chico State University students. This is all the more disquieting because it comes from a group that purportedly celebrates fairness and information as the keys to electoral responsibility.

As analyses of voter participation in this country have consistently documented, those who most tend to vote are those who are positively engaged with their communities and ballot issues. That is no less the case with our students. And these are the students who provide almost 100,000 hours of volunteer service to our community each year, who have rushed to the aid of fire victims in Concow and built a campus for Catalyst Domestic Violence Services, who have transformed Cesar Chavez Day into a community-service day, and who have led the annual Scour and Devour community cleanup, just to mention a few examples of their civic engagement and commitment. No, these are not the few students who may occasionally trash our city; these are the many thousands who treasure it.

So, what message is being sent to them by those who want to inhibit their ability to vote in local elections? Is it, thanks for your dollars and your labor, but don’t bother to tell us what you think about local politics and issues? Sounds a lot like children should be seen but not heard.

Like anyone who cares about this city, and who lives here, students have earned the right to vote in local elections, and the electoral calendar should do everything it can to encourage and welcome their participation, not shun and malign it.