DiversiFive Files: Voting Rights & Responsibilities

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Amanda Karpinski, 2017-18 International President. It is the first in the “DiversiFive Files” series written by the 2017-18 International Officers.

It is no secret that we use our Phi Theta Kappa membership to help spark change around us. Our Honors in Action and College Projects have a far-reaching impact that does not stop at our annual convention. One chapter in Portland, Oregon, wanted to create change for students on their campus that would last a lifetime.

There is no denying that the November 2016 presidential election sparked a lot of interest in politics, but the Beta Epsilon Gamma Chapter took an interest in making sure that everyone’s voice was heard. The chapter officers felt a responsibility to assure that all eligible voters made it out to the polls for the election. They observed in their community that marginalized groups were not voting.

Beta Epsilon Gamma showed what chapters can do in a tumultuous political world. While conducting research, the chapter learned that language barrier was a common obstacle preventing voters in their community. Chapter members included all students on campus by hosting information events on how to register to vote, supplying translators, and focusing on groups that are illiterate. During a time of high tensions, the chapter wanted to make certain that everyone’s voices were heard.

As Phi Theta Kappans, we strive to learn how the world works. We host debates, conduct research, and contribute to our communities by thinking globally and acting locally.

Today we turn on the news and see a world filled with hate and anger. Phi Theta Kappa members, like the Beta Epsilon Gamma Chapter, have shown that we can acknowledge our differences but focus on our similarities. Not everyone voted for the same candidate in November 2016, but chapter members wanted to assure that everyone could vote.

Members of the Beta Epsilon Gamma Chapter had the unique development opportunity to focus on social justice, equity, and inclusion through a leadership role to assure that students on their campus voted, especially groups that have not previously voted. Chapter officers said voting is a right, and it was their responsibility to provide students with “the information they needed to make a reasonable decision.”

The leaders of Portland Community College’s PTK chapter showed that they did not have to participate in a political debate to be involved with the presidential election.

Phi Theta Kappa is a microcosm of the world, filled with diverse members from every different background. Even though we may face different obstacles, each of us has the goal to excel academically, professionally, and personally. As the leaders of tomorrow, we have the responsibility to show the world that we can have contrasting views and remain together as a unified society.

2017-18 International President Amanda Karpinski is a student at Bergen Community College in New Jersey.

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