Letter: Classes shouldn’t be scheduled for students on Election Day

A man waits outside the Luzerne County Board of Elections where people drop off and request for mail-in ballots in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on October 22, 2020. (Courtesy Tribune News Service)

Written by Fresno State graduate student Joseph Riloquio, department of history at Fresno State

With just days to go before the election, Fresno State President Dr. Joseph I. Castro sent out a campus communication titled “Voting resources, our core values and well-being.” Castro said he was encouraged to see students voting, provided resources on where/when to vote and urged students to practice self-care in the coming days/weeks. 

While valuable information, it falls short of truly empowering students to exercise their voting rights.

This election will have major consequences on students’ lives, especially those in the most vulnerable populations, and to ask them to sit in a Zoom class while their futures are decided is simply inappropriate. Fresno State should foster an environment that allows students to not only partake in the election process but view the potentially life-altering results come in.

I reached out to university administration and the President’s office (I had to email twice and call to get a response) to express my concerns and ask that the administration add information on the Voter’s Bill of Rights to their election communications.

One department chair agreed to forward my concerns to their faculty, but at the upper levels of administration, I was continually asked to instead share my concerns with any professors holding class on Nov 3.

The university should have planned ahead and not scheduled classes on Election Day, but since they haven’t, the responsible thing is to not allow students to be penalized for missing class.

It’s at the least insincere to encourage students to get out and vote through campus communications while refusing to convey to students that they may be protected under the Voter Bill of Rights if they miss class to vote. It’s insincere to hold a campus voter registration drive and then penalize students for wholeheartedly partaking in the election. 

Fresno State and Castro need to do what’s in the best interest of the student body: cancel classes on Nov. 3. 

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