Dear Campus Community,
We knew we could count on 2020 to be a significant year for American democracy, marked by both the decennial Census and a presidential election. We, as a nation, did not anticipate two pandemics in 2020 - that at the same time we would battle a global public health crisis and confront racial injustice that has plagued our nation throughout history.
Recent events have amplified the importance of our fundamental democratic processes.
We know that COVID-19 has disproportionate impacts on communities of color and has further underscored disparities in access to resources and other inequities in our nation. The coronavirus has also presented major challenges to completing the Census count and created barriers to safe, fair and full electoral participation. This is troubling, especially when we know that filling out the Census and voting are two ways to address inequities in our nation.
So now, more than ever, we need full participation in our democracy. Above all, please make a plan to vote.
In addition, I invite you to get involved where you can:
- Take 10 minutes to complete the 2020 Census to provide funding, resources, services, political representation and more to our community for the next 10 years. Students should be counted at their college address, and not the residence they’ve relocated to because of virtual learning. On-campus students and students who live in university-owned housing have been automatically counted by university. Students who live off-campus can complete their census form at 2020census.gov. The deadline to complete the census form is Wednesday, September 30.
- Volunteer to act as an election poll worker at Xfinity Center, which we have offered for the use of Prince George's County voters.
- Volunteer to serve as an election poll worker at other Prince George’s County sites or in your local community.
- Participate in virtual opportunities for civic involvement for those who cannot join in-person service or activities, including efforts to promote voter registration and other methods of participation such as early or absentee-balloting.
- Talk with your friends and colleagues about being counted in the 2020 Census and registering to and voting in upcoming elections.
The university is also working with our Big Ten colleagues on efforts to incentivize student collaborations around voting and organize a scholarly symposium on full, safe and fair elections. TerpsVote, a coalition of students, faculty and staff, is working to increase UMD students’ awareness of the voting process. Learn more about this important effort here.
Together, we can help create a better future for our local communities and the nation. It is our civic duty to be counted in the 2020 Census, and to make a plan so that all TerpsVote!
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland