By: Krista Didzbalis '19
Advanced standing MSW student, Michael Taylor '19, shares his thoughts on the importance of voting and his work as an Andrew Goodman Foundation Vote Everywhere Fellow. This is the second year the Andrew Goodman Foundation has hosted Vote Everywhere Fellows at Rutgers School of Social Work. Their aim is to increase voter registration and engagement among college students.
Why did you choose to get involved in the Andrew Goodman Foundation?
Taylor: I got involved the same time that I decided to pursue the Management and Policy (MAP) concentration. I realized that there are many institutional barriers that impact people and felt as though I could have more impact aiming at the heart of the issues.
With that, it made more sense for me to get involved in more things things like policy and becoming more civically engaged. I jumped at the chance to be a part of the Andrew Goodman Foundation because it felt like what I really wanted to do within the field of social work.
What is your role as the team leader of the Vote Everywhere campus program?
Taylor: As the team leader my job is to work with the other students involved on the campus team and essentially figure out who we want to work with and what strategies we want to implement to get people to the polls.
We often interpret data on college student's level of civic engagement, gather information about voting on the Rutgers campus, and discuss new ways to break down voting barriers. For the recent midterm election, we held a number of events specifically through the SSW to get more students engaged, and most importantly, registered to vote.
Why do you think it is important for college students to become active and engaged in
democracy and social change?
Taylor: One of the biggest issues I have encountered while speaking with various students on campus is that there is a sense of apathy toward getting involved. College students do not realize how powerful they actually are in enacting change. We are such a potentially massive voting block that rarely shows up on election day.
Beyond that, there are so many issues that effect college students. The whole political landscape could change and many issues could be brought to the public if young people take advantage of the many resources available to educate themselves.
Why is it important for social workers to exercise their right to vote?
Taylor: There is a really strong relationship between the political atmosphere and social work. So much of our field is related to the programs we work on with clients and the organizations we work for. There are so many issues on the ballot that will directly impact the populations we work with. One of the best ways to empower our clients is to show up to the ballot on election day.
How can other social work students get involved?
Taylor: Not only should you stay as informed as possible on all of the issues, one of the most important things you can do is make sure you are registered to vote, make sure you have a plan to vote, make sure all of your friends have a plan to vote, and know where your polling location is. Once you get your friends to the polls, work on enacting more change by getting in touch with policy makers and working to put all of the issues you care about in focus.
Within the Andrew Goodman Foundation, we have a new website called myvoteeverywhere.org that is specifically geared toward college students. The website will show you who is on your ballot, where your polling place is located, and how to register. Students can also sign up to receive updates on any volunteer opportunities if they want to more actively participate in tackling important social justice issues.