With just six weeks until the general election, University of Iowa sports teams are using some of their star power to get more students registered to vote.
Meghan Conroy, a junior field hockey player from Chesterfield, Mo., is one of the student-athletes leading the get-out-the-vote effort among the Iowa Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, of which she is treasurer/secretary.
She recently answered questions from The Gazette about the project.
Q: What are your goals for voter registration in UI Athletics?
A: “The first thing we’re really pushing is the 90 percent challenge. It was brought to us by Hawk the Vote, which is another group on campus. It’s a campuswide campaign that encourages all student organizations at the University of Iowa to become more civically engaged. They are trying to push each group to have 90 percent of their members be registered to vote. We want, as our group of ISAAC, to have 100 percent. We think we can do it.”
Q: How are you promoting voter registration with so many campus events being virtual?
A: “The biggest thing right now is social media. I see it all over my Instagram and Twitter — using student-athletes as a platform to get the word out.”
Q: Why are you motivated to vote?
A: “This will be my first time voting, so it’s kind of exciting. At the Big Ten Voting Challenge Task Force meeting, it was about 50/50 (first-time voters and those who had voted before). Growing up, my parents always encouraged us. It’s our civic duty, our right, to vote. With the different situations going on in America, the importance of voting is more apparent now.”
Q: Iowa has had some soul-searching moments in the past months related to Black Lives Matter, which, of course, has been a national movement. Do these issues motivate student-athletes to vote?
A: “For sure. My meeting with my team was about diversity, equity and inclusion. As a team, we’re making an action plan and goals. Everything nationally going on is definitely pushing people to vote. We have the ability to make a change and now’s the time.”
Q: What information are you sharing with students to help them register?
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A: “If I wasn’t a student-athlete I don’t know if information would have gotten to me. It really is simple. To register, you just go online to Vote.org. There are so many campus resources I don’t think a lot of students know about. For me, I’m going to be registered in Missouri. Hawk the Vote told me I need to order my ballot.
Q: Is how and where to vote part of the education?
A: “September is getting people registered. October and November will be more about pushing the details. They’re going to bring back alumni and other athletes to talk about why we vote. For current students, it will make a huge impact hearing from their role models, the people who created the history here.”
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