The Omicron Beta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and the N.C. Wesleyan College Campus Activities Board co-sponsored a candidate forum and voter registration drive for students Sept. 18 in the school’s Hartness Center.
The event served as the chapter’s installment of the fraternity’s “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People” National Program, which was initiated in the 1930s and focuses on voter education, registration, political awareness and empowerment through town meetings, candidate forums, and voter registration initiatives. Members of student organizations such as the Sisters of Distinction and the Tau Gamma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority were among those in attendance.
Nash County Board of Elections Director John Kearney educated students on absentee and one-stop voting, local polling places, sample ballots, and the proper ways to register to vote and check the status of their registration.
“Voting is the cornerstone of democracy,” Kearney said. “(And) you can’t have a democracy without voting.”
Kearney’s message was informative for junior criminal justice major Shamika Genardo.
“It was very educational,” said the Brooklyn, N.Y. resident. “Being a student from another state, I wanted to get involved in this election.”
Darryl Holloman, a Goldsboro-based computer programmer who is running on the Libertarian ticket for N.C.’s First Congressional District, was the lone candidate in attendance.
“It was great to see a Congressional candidate actually come out to our school to speak to us,” sophomore Charlei Simpson said of Holloman.
Following an initial 30-minute mingling period where students had the chance to register to vote and personally speak with Kearney and Holloman while enjoying refreshments courtesy of the Campus Activites Board, the floor was opened for debate on issues such as illegal immigration, abortion, universal healthcare, student debt/loans, gay marriage, and affirmative action.
“Debating with a politician was somewhat invigorating,” said freshman entertainment/theatre major Marcas Craig-Bradford, “but I became more knowledgeable on current political issues.”
Raffles were held throughout the event, with prizes including DVDs, school paraphernalia, personal mini-speakers and gift cards. Each attendant also received a goodies bag full of chocolate candy.
“From the debates to the raffles, this was a huge success,” said sophomore and Omicron Beta Chapter President Rajon Ward. “All of the students were very interactive with the information presented, the presenters, and are ready to take a stand in their communities.”
For more information, contact Omicron Beta Chapter President Rajon Ward at 301-832-8285.