The Student Assembly (S.A.) devoted yet another of its meetings to the topic of civic service yesterday.
S.A. members passed a resolution to promote voter registration and also welcomed Michelle Rothengast, director of higher education initiatives for America’s Promise, an organization that promotes civic involvement in youth advocacy issues.
The resolution, which passed unanimously, encouraged leaders of University student organizations to ask their members to register to vote and improve registration among other students as well.
While there has already been a push by the University Administration to increase registration, the sponsors of the resolution hoped that an effort made by students would be more effective.
The deadline for voters to register for the November elections is Oct. 11.
Rothengast’s presentation outlined that organizations’ mission and services, citing statistics that have served as a stimulus for action within the organization.
“One in six children live in poverty, one in eight do not finish high school,” Rothengast said. “Today there are more youth in gangs than in our entire armed forces.”
Rothengast also played a video featuring testimonials from volunteers and children who have benefited from the efforts of America’s Promise.
“We assess the needs for people from Appalachia to the inner cities,” Rothengast said.
According to Rothengast, universities can provide student volunteer opportunities, research capabilities, and staff teaching services that other communities cannot. She has visited over 50 universities and colleges in order to gain support from those communities for the organization.
Speaking of the other universities she has visited, Rothengast said, “The students have not taken the lead in the same way that Cornell has.”
America’s promise is based on five promises that foster community involvement and motivate citizens to improve the education and welfare of young people. Universities can also incorporate the premise of these five promises into their curriculum, furthering a commitment to civic service, Rothengast said.
America’s Promise was founded in 1997 as a result of the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future. Four former presidents, First Lady Nancy Reagan and hundreds of other civic, business, and community leaders attended that conference addressing the country’s youth.
The result of that summit was the creation of an alliance of corporations, not-for-profit groups, universities, faith-based groups, federal agencies and culture organizations working to improve the situation of American youth.
Currently, there are approximately 500 organizations linked with America’s Promise.
Rothengast briefly outlined what student volunteers could do in coordination with the organization’s five promises.
The first promise includes creating relationships between adults and troubled youth. The organization encourages parents, teachers, and coaches to become mentors.
The second and third promises involve providing after-school programs and helping children when they are first starting school.
Offering more effective educational programs and more volunteer opportunities for community members make up the fourth and fifth promises.
Following the America’s Promise presentation, the S.A. tabled a motion to allow students in the Internal Transfer Division (ITD) to vote for student representatives from the college they are leaving. Currently, students can only vote for undesignated representatives if they are in the ITD during S.A. elections.
“It didn’t seem fair to give them a vote for the college they are going into,” said Steve Blake ’05, undesignated representative, who proposed the resolution.
Several members raised issues concerning the feasibility of the plan with the Office of the Registrar. Blake offered to consult with the appropriate officials and report back to the S.A. at its next meeting.
Archived article by Mackenzie Damon