AUBURN, Alabama – When Auburn University student-athletes enter the Wellness Kitchen for dinner, they will have the opportunity to register to vote.
Throughout the summer, Auburn’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) met to discuss social unrest, determined to use their platform to improve their community. The leaders of the SAAC have decided to make voter education a central initiative.
Bridgett King, associate professor of political science at Auburn University and a former researcher on voting rights, organized briefings with SAAC leaders and Auburn student-athletes on the importance of vote.
With the support of the sports director Allen Greene, Senior Executives and Coaches, SAAC, in conjunction with the SEC’s Voter Engagement and Education Program, supports conversations aimed at educating and facilitating student-athlete, coach and staff participation in local elections, state and federal.
SAAC will be holding three voter registration drives on October 8, 22 and 5, encouraging all Auburn University students to register, as well as track and field staff and coaches.
“It’s very important that we vote because we can make a huge difference in this community, or if we vote at home we can also make a difference at home,” said SAAC President Allie Riddle, a junior from the gymnastics team. “We are trying to promote education on the voting process.”
“We feel like the student-athletes have a great platform that they can use,” said SAAC vice president Jacob Quattlebaum, a sophomore on the soccer team. “There are 25,000 students here. It’s a large population whose voices have not been heard. It’s a way for student-athletes to express their voice.”
SAAC has partnered with the League of Women Voters of East Alabama in a social media campaign to encourage students to register and vote.
“I am extremely proud to work with young people who show their interest and passion for social justice issues,” said Janice robinson, director of student-athlete improvement at Auburn Athletics.
A voter resource page on the AuburnYOU website includes links to voting deadlines, registration and general information leading up to Election Day.
“The LWVEA has created a social media campaign that the SAAC group has adopted and will provide videos to encourage and support the vote,” said Robinson.
“Our goal as the SAAC team is to walk people step by step, not who they should vote for or how they should vote, but to explain why they should vote and the voting process,” Quattlebaum said.
Noting how much student-athletes have provided feedback on social justice issues, especially during the pandemic, Riddle encourages his peers to put their activism into action at the polls.
“Covid has made a lot of people take a step back and consider what their priorities are and figure out what they want for their future and that of this country,” she said. “Posting on social networks is good. It helps promote change, but permanent change comes from the ballot box. “
Instead of engaging students in the lobby outside the student center as they would before the coronavirus, SAAC leaders are using digital platforms to connect with Auburn students.
“Not having that much face-to-face interaction makes it a bit more difficult,” said Riddle, who is undeterred. “The student-athletes have taken a stand on what is happening in the country lately. This is a good opportunity to exercise our civic responsibility.”
Studied puzzles at the Auburn University School of Nursing. Quattlebaum is majoring in Electrical Engineering at Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. While balancing studies and athletics, they also promote participation in the democratic process.
“It’s good timing and something that has always interested me a lot and that I have a passion for,” said Riddle. “I am delighted to be a part of it.”
“Let your voice be heard,” Quattlebaum said. “Make a difference, whatever it may be for you. “
Jeff shearer is a senior writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer