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Student groups collaborate to transport students to polls

Free shuttle service provided for students on Grounds

<p>Safe ride shuttles transported students back and forth from polls on Election Day.</p>

Safe ride shuttles transported students back and forth from polls on Election Day.

University Democrats, College Republicans and Student Council collaborated to organize an Election Day shuttle from Observatory Hill Dining Hall to University Hall, a polling location for students in first-year dorms and select on-Grounds housing.

The service utilized the University’s SafeRide vans, which made continuous trips from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Election Day.

University Democrats President Sam Tobin, a fourth-year College student, said many CIOs worked with University Democrats to send a letter to University Parking and Transportation asking the University to provide transportation for all students regardless of party or candidate choice. The letter was signed by a total of 13 student groups including the Latino Student Alliance, the Black Student Alliance and Green Grounds.

Student Council President Emily Lodge, a fourth-year Batten student, said Student Council’s political engagement is a key focus as civic engagement and self-governance go hand in hand.

“We worked with both College Republicans and the University Democrats in talking to Parking and Transportation to secure shuttles to the University Hall polling location for many students who live on Grounds, especially first-years who do not have their own cars,” Lodge said.

Adam Kimelman, second-year College student and vice chair of campaigns for the College Republicans, said he was involved in communication efforts with University Democrats and agreed offering a free transportation service from Grounds would be a good idea.

“The majority of our members are first-years, and the majority of a lot of new voters this year are first-years,” Kimelman said. “The problem was not only are they far away from University Hall, but a lot of them don’t even know where University Hall is.”

Kimelman also met with Parking and Transportation to work out the logistics for providing transportation for students, which included the decision to use SafeRide vans rather than UTS buses.

“The problem with that was the buses themselves are actually all in use on the other routes,” Kimelman said. “The University Democrats, to their credit, did a great job pushing that forward.”

Both groups worked to make sure students were informed about their options for getting to the polls.

Tobin said the University Democrats and Student Council spent time tabling outside Newcomb Hall during the past week as a nonpartisan effort to educate students about the shuttle service and other ways to get to the polls.

“We would ask if they needed a ride, and we would tell them about the services we’re working with,” Tobin said.

Turner LaBrie, third-year College student and director of communications for the College Republicans, said efforts to inform students also extended online.

“We’re being active on social media and telling people to get out the vote,” LaBrie said.

The free student shuttles were paid for by the Center for Politics and the Parents Fund.