By Thupten Tendhar

Of course, I plan to vote for YES on 4. “We need your voice and your vote on November 8 to support the success of our students and the role the University of Rhode Island” says URI website. There has been good efforts and publicity for the approval of Question 4 which will authorize the state of Rhode Island to invest significantly in engineering and innovation programs. But how many URI students can or will actually vote on November 8?

Speaking from an eagle’s viewpoint, the recent US presidential debates had record number of domestic and international viewers due to various reasons. Many watched it with deep concerns for the US and global future, some for their business and political stakes, some for just entertainment, and some for educational purposes. Now that the loud rounds of debate are over we have reached closer to the doorsteps of actual election day. But are we (URI students) ready for the upcoming election? Should we vote for our next US president on November 8?

College students in the US and abroad have not only contributed to the innovations of technology, engineering, and medicine, but they have also taken active roles in transforming and developing our societies for peace, human rights, justice, equality, and betterment for all humankind. For example, Dr. Bernard LaFayette Jr. who was the director of URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies and a recent recipient of URI’s Honorary Doctorate Degree risked his life and worked hard during the Civil Right Movements and the Voting Rights Movement in Selma when he was a young college student. Similarly, hundreds of Chinese college students risked their lives for democracy during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. These examples represent the rich history of college students’ capability, involvement, and leadership in voting rights and social change for betterment of both present and future generations. Therefore, we should not have to wait until college graduation to serve the humanity.

Personally, I did not get this privilege to vote for a nation’s president until recently. I am not a politician but as a nonviolence activist and an educator, I believe in the common responsibility for our common goodness. For adult citizens, voting is not just their privilege, but it also is their highest responsibility and dedication for the country. Since the elected leader has highest authority and power to transform their education policy, social welfare, and national identity, I think every adult citizen should vote utilizing their own intelligence. Each voter has power to choose the country’s highest leadership to work for and represent their values at both domestic and international podiums.

According to the preplanned URI calendar, offices are closed but classes will hold on November 8, the election day. Considering both resident and commuter students, I wonder what percentage of URI students can still vote? It is very close to the election day now, but shouldn’t the election day be a national holiday to celebrate the voting rights? This may also help maximize the citizens’ participation which is the key to success of a democratic nation.