Hannah Rosenberg / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Samantha Landsman '22 and Catherine Silvestri '22 created "Rock the Polls," an initiative to help members of Greek life organizations register to vote.

October 4, 2020

Four Greek Houses Pledge Full Voter Turnout

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Four Greek letter organizations have united to take on the challenge of ensuring 100 percent voter registration and turnout for each of their houses.

Samantha Landsman ’22 and Catherine Silvestri ’22 of Kappa Alpha Theta spearheaded the “Rock the Polls” voting initiative, teaming up with Delta Chi, Sigma Pi and Sigma Delta Tau.

Landsman and Silvestri came up with the idea in August after overhearing a member of their sorority mention that they were not registered to vote. The two, as result, saw an opportunity “to eliminate some of the barriers for students who want to vote and share their voice” through their sorority platform.

In talking to members of her house, Landsman found that the most common refrain was issues stemming from voting accessibility. According to Landsman, students encounter unexpected obstacles when voting, noting that some “have too much going on even to print out a ballot and bring it to the post office.”

From creating and sending out surveys, using vote.org, sending texts and emails, to directly helping students acquire absentee ballots, envelopes and stamps, Silvestri and Landsman said that every eligible voter member of Kappa Alpha Theta is already registered. To make sure they follow through, the house is planning to organize carpool trips to polling places on Election Day.

“We thought that getting all of the data to [get house members registered] to vote was going to be a challenge,” Silvestri said. ”But it only took us a little under two weeks, which was inspiring.”

Kappa Alpha Theta, Sigma Delta Tau, Delta Chi and Sigma Pi often organize philanthropic events together. The rapport between the four houses made this collaboration easy, with 100 percent voter registration and turnout for Rock the Polls a strong possibility.

Daniel Bernstein ’23, the risk manager for Delta Chi, is working to ensure the members of his fraternity are registered to vote. Before the Rock the Polls collaboration began, it already was Bernstein’s personal goal to get all of Delta Chi registered, he said.

“Getting people active, especially at a young age, is so vital for our democracy,” Bernstein said. “Greek Life has a lot of controversies, and I feel that if I’m going to be part of the system, I want to try to better it as much as I can.”

Arthur Decker ’22, president of Sigma Pi, keeps track of which brothers have registered and which haven’t, consistently encouraging any of the eligible 56 brothers who have not yet registered to do so as soon as possible.

During this virtual semester, “we have a lot of extra time on our hands,” Decker said. ”Why not use it for good?”

With Election Day only one month away, Kappa Alpha Theta is looking to expand Rock the Polls to more Greek letter organizations on campus. As of Saturday, October 3rd, Kappa Alpha Theta and Delta Chi have reached 100 percent voter registration.

The Cornell men’s varsity basketball team is another campus organization that has accomplished 100 percent voter registration, encouraging other eligible student-athletes to register to vote.

“This is the election that’s going to determine our future. It’s our future that’s going to be affected by climate change. It’s us entering the workforce either in a recession or not. It’s our college experience that we have to quarantine for,” Landsman said. “This is our election to shake.”