Office of Government Relations Encourage Student Voting



For the first time, Fordham administration encourages students to vote.


On Sept. 9, 2019, the Office of Government Relations (OGR) sent an email to the entire Fordham community encouraging them to vote in upcoming elections and providing detailed instructions about how to register. 

All universities are mandated to, at minimum, distribute voter registration forms to their students in accordance with the 1998 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965. However, Lesley Masiah-Arthur, vice president of the office of government relations and urban affairs, explained that Fordham University goes further by actually encouraging its students to vote in elections.

“Fordham is a university in the Jesuit tradition and, as such, there is the expectation that students engage the world in a value-laden, thoughtful and discerning manner,” said Massiah-Arthur about the university’s attitude towards political engagement. 


Students on campus seem to be on board with the university’s increased attention towards voting. “It is important for young people to vote because our generation has been seen to have differing opinions from the baby boomer generation,” said Grace Spiegel, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’23. “In order for our voice to be heard as well as the older generations, we need to cast our votes.”  

While young people, especially on campus, express interest in national and world politics, studies have shown a large disparity between those with the intention of voting and actual voter turnout. One explanation for this is some college students failing to change their addresses from their home state to their new college state, and not ordering an absentee ballot, which some states allow.

Consequently, OGR works to assist many students with amending their addresses or requesting an absentee ballot. The office also has multiple campaigns prepared for the coming weeks, including a 2-week voter drive on all campuses and a Census 2020 initiative. 

“The 2020 election cycle has already started, and there is much to do,” said Massiah-Arthur. 

All voter registration initiatives must be non-partisan, as universities are bound to impartiality as not-for-profit organizations. Bob Howe, assistant vice president of communications, reconfirmed that Fordham’s leadership and policies “flow from the University’s mission and Catholic, Jesuit teachings, regardless of which political party controls the White House or Legislature.” 

Recognizing the amount of partisan information to which students are exposed, OGR included links to non-partisan election resource sites. Massiah-Arthur hopes that these resources will encourage students to “find out about candidates and their positions in a manner which will, hopefully, allow them to go beyond political messaging and make informed decisions and choices which best reflect their values.”