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Dozens of GVSU students vote on campus; Mantella encourages dignity and respect

Dozens of Grand Valley students waited in line on Election Day to cast their ballot at the satellite Allendale Township Clerk’s Office on campus. They joined more than 400 students who already voted in the weeks leading up to the day. 

Members of the GVSU community gathered at the Cook Carillon Tower on November 3 to acknowledge the significance of the day. In her remarks, President Philomena V. Mantella said a fundamental way to serve the common good and be an active citizen is to vote. 

“The right to vote has been hard fought,” Mantella said. “Voting, like education, is a self-responsibility. It’s acting on your sense of purpose acting with your passion and your commitment not only to yourselves, but to each other.” 

She reminded the audience to stand up for what they believe in, but do so with dignity and respect. Mantella also denounced the recent desecration of headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Grand Rapids. 

“We must all stand together to say we will not tolerate acts of hate disguised as politics,” Mantella said. 

Melissa Baker-Boosamra, associate director for Student Life - Civic Engagement & Assessment, said while the world is facing multiple challenges, now is when students are needed the most. 

“Our students are ready and capable of making our communities more welcoming and just,” Baker-Boosamra said. “They are ready to use their voices to do so.” 

Joel Pagel, Student Senate vice president of external relations, said the Laker community is engaged and energized. On this Election Day and beyond, he encouraged compassion. 

“We may not know the election results, but when we do, it is helpful to remind ourselves that despite the outcome, be respectful, open-minded and kind,” Pagel said.

GVSU President Philomena V. Mantella makes Election Day remarks on the Allendale Campus.
GVSU President Philomena V. Mantella makes Election Day remarks on the Allendale Campus.
Valerie Hendrickson
Members of the Laker Marching Band lead a "Walk to Vote" to the Allendale Township Satellite Clerk's Office.
Members of the Laker Marching Band lead a "Walk to Vote" to the Allendale Township Satellite Clerk's Office.
Valerie Hendrickson
A "VOTE" hair pin in a student's hair
A GVSU student wears a "VOTE" hairpin on Election Day.
Valerie Hendrickson

Following the remarks, the Laker Marching Band performed and led the crowd to the satellite clerk’s office, where those who were eligible were encouraged to vote. GVSU Votes! face coverings and buttons were available for students to take.

Students drove golf carts around campus throughout the day to offer rides to vote in Kirkhof Center until the satellite clerk’s office closed at 5 p.m. The office opened on campus in mid-October and offered several services, including the ability to register to vote and request an absentee ballot. 

The satellite clerk’s office came out of a partnership between the Office of Student Life Community Service Learning Center, GVSU Student Senate and Allendale Township; it is part of a broader effort to increase student voting.

GVSU is also participating in the "ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge’s Presidential Commitment to Full Student Voter Participation,” which Mantella signed. 

For campuswide election resources, visit gvsu.edu/election2020.

The Cook Carillon Tower on GVSU's Allendale Campus
Students line up outside Kirkhof Center on GVSU's Allendale Campus to vote.
Image Credit: Valerie Hendrickson
Melissa Baker-Boosamra, associate director for student life: civic engagement & assessment, speaks at the Cook Carillon Tower on Election Day.
Melissa Baker-Boosamra, associate director for student life: civic engagement & assessment, speaks at the Cook Carillon Tower on Election Day.
Valerie Hendrickson
A "Vote in Kirkhof" sign
A sign with details about voting in the Kirkhof Center on GVSU's Allendale Campus.
Valerie Hendrickson
A black and white photo of GVSU Votes face coverings
GVSU Votes face coverings placed on a table near the Cook Carillon Tower on Election Day.
Valerie Hendrickson