Students Wrote On The Richland Wall, Encouraging Students To Vote For Democratic Candidate Sarah Grace For Ohio State Representative
ATHENS – In anticipation of the election on November 8, Ohio University (OU) students wrote on the Richland Wall, encouraging students to vote for aspiring representative of Ohio’s 94th House District, Democratic candidate Sarah Grace in this year’s electoral race.
The students of OU saw the Ohio University College Democrats’ (OUCD) message on the Richland Wall regarding the importance of voting in this year’s election, to determine who will be elected to Ohio House of Representative’s 94th District between Republican candidate Jay Edwards and Democratic candidate Sarah Grace, a decision OUCD president Sam Miller, believes will ultimately determine the country’s political trajectory. Miller explained her organization’s efforts to encourage students to vote, and how their message emphasized this call to action.
Miller said, “we woke up on election day and saw that there was a [painting] for Jay Edwards, and we had openly shown that we were not okay with him being a candidate and we did not want him to win … so we wanted it to be kind of a message for, ‘here’s who you should vote for,’ but also you should just vote in general. So we just had ‘Vote For Sarah Grace’ … and also just like ‘Your Voice is Your Vote.’ “
This message is important for OU students, especially considering the number of past students who didn’t voted in previous elections, said Miller, as many disregarded the power of their influence, resulting in individuals between the ages of 18-24, holding the lowest percentage of total votes.
“So often I hear college students say that we can’t make a difference … at the end of the day it doesn’t matter, but people don’t realize our age group of millennials is larger than the baby boomers’ could’ve ever been,” she said. If we wanted to really make a difference, we really really can, and the first step is just voting.”
Miller believes the image her organization painted on the surface of the wall, as well as their sessions to register voters, helped encourage OU students to vote, and their statements “Vote For Sarah Grace” and “Your Voice is Your Vote,” were instrumental in adding a substantial number of voters compared to the election in 2012, said Miller.
She said, “I think it was Athens Messenger that came out with an article saying that 900 more students voted … in this election than they did in 2012, and I can’t help but think that’s a direct effect from the work my organization did.”
Miller said the Richland Wall is an important structure on campus, one that allows individuals to openly express social, cultural, and political messages that affect those within its proximity. Miller says being a part of the organization OUCD, made her aware of the impact the wall could have onto the Athens community.
“The wall has been kind of just a hot bed this entire election … anyone can use it, and so many people pass it … it’s such an easy way to leave an impression on someone that it makes sense that a lot of groups try to utilize it,” said Miller.
The social power the wall has on this campus is evident, as it has influenced OU students to vote in the most controversial election in recent years, said Miller. Though Sarah Grace wasn’t elected as Ohio’s State Representative, OUCD’s statements are an example of how large an impact the wall has onto the students of OU, one that Miller hopes will encourage students to continue to be involved in such political topics in the future.
“Even if our candidates at the end of the day didn’t win, Athens county still went blue … if students are just understanding of how important it is that they vote,” she said “This will work so much better for them in the future … your voice is literally your vote, if you want to make a difference that is the first outlet to do it.”