“Super Tuesday” serves as a reminder of our civic responsibility and democratic principles

Dr. Mary A. Papazian

Today is “Super Tuesday.”

That is the name political pundits have given, of course, to the day when Californians and voters from 15 other states go to the polls to participate in the Presidential Primary Election. There are many other important local and regional races and issues for which we are casting ballots, too.

At San Jose State, this has been an exciting and important period for our democracy.

Our Associated Students recently observed “SJSU Democracy Week” and staged a number of campus activities meant to bring visibility to the upcoming elections. Our SJSU Votes! voter registration and mobilization project has been highly active and doing its part to encourage fellow students to vote.

In addition, we hosted a Town Hall discussion about Election Security at the Hammer Theatre, an event that featured a number of distinguished and prominent elected officials who all have a keen and active interest in voting issues. It was a provocative and informative discussion that, not surprisingly, was well-attended and highly engaging. I am grateful for Rep. Anna Eshoo, Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Secretary of State Alex Padilla for joining us and taking part.

Election Security Town Hall

President Mary Papazian joins Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congtresswoman Zoe Lofgren, and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a discussion about election security and election misinformation at Hammer Theater Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

Later this spring, we will take part in the 2020 California Census, which, among other things, helps determine the state’s federal funding for important community services.

But perhaps our most tangible milestone was the ribbon-cutting and official opening of the new SJSU Voting Center, located in King Library. This new facility means a great deal to San Jose State and to our students.

There are serious issues at play with all of us these days, issues that affect each one of us: Immigration. Health care. Jobs, and both the domestic and global economy. Roads, bridges, highways, and other infrastructure. Education. International affairs.
 
All of those things matter. Elections matter. Voting matters.
 
Voting may be, in fact, the most fundamental expression of our civic engagement.
 
Educating our students on their civic responsibility and helping to equip them to be engaged in their communities is a big part of our public mission as educators.
 
As the writer, reporter and political commentator Walter Lippmann wrote in his classic and influential book, Public Opinion, “we cannot rely upon intuition, conscience, or the accidents of casual opinion if we are to deal with the world beyond our reach.”
 
Whether the topic takes place in a “world beyond our reach” or is one that hits closer to home, San Jose State takes pride in its role as a regional convener of important issues, as a public square and venue where debate and discussion takes place.
 
The topic may involve inequality, student and athlete activism, basic needs, truth-telling in journalism, opportunities for girls in education or election security. Whatever the issue, San Jose State is always prepared to bring together a variety of voices and experts to discuss, analyze and sometimes even debate potential solutions.
 
But voting, by itself, is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of our democracy, the cornerstone of who we are as a nation.
 
These days, many of the core principles that define our democracy and our elections are under scrutiny. That is precisely why the activities and events I have described above are so important to public universities like San Jose State.
 
The outcome of this year’s Presidential election may very well impact us all for years to come. My hope, as the president of San Jose State University, is that we are doing our part to prepare our students to actively participate in the democratic process.
SJSU student with voting button

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