A Penn State student started an online petition asking President Barron to give students an excused absence on November 8 if they can show proof they voted in the election.
The petition highlights that fact that University Park has a single polling place to service all of the students on campus, which means lines can be long. Although some students need to vote downtown depending on where they live, the HUB is the primary polling location for on-campus students. Additionally, the petition mentions that students who attend Commonwealth Campuses may face additional challenges due to their commute.
The petition also highlights parts of Penn State’s mission, like the call for students to “improve the health of communities.” The full statement reads:
“Honorable President Barron,
Voting is a principle right of citizens in a free and democratic society. Any institution which fails to enable all of its eligible citizens to vote fails in its duty to give its people a representative government. Today, Penn State is failing in its mission as a societal and educational institution by adding to the undue burden placed on Penn State student voters. As of today, students in Penn State campuses across Pennsylvania face academic penalties either by losing attendance credit or by failing to hand in assignments if they miss a class in order to vote. Given the fact that Pennsylvania does not have early voting and that just at the University Park campus there is only a single polling station to serve 46,000 students, the mass of people in line to vote results in long wait times. In our Commonwealth campuses, students who often commute may not be able to reach the polls due to the distance between their polling locations and campus and their class schedules.
Therefore, due to the limitations placed on students by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Centre County Board of Elections, it becomes the responsibility of the University to ensure that students are able to exercise their right. An excused absence would allow students to fulfill their civic duty without unintended academic penalty. Such a policy would contribute to Penn State’s mission to “educate students from Pennsylvania, the nation and the world” by actively engaging them in the democratic process and “improve the health of communities” by helping to ensure a truly representative government.
Therefore, we, the undersigned demand the University enact a policy which grants an excused absence to any student on any Penn State campus who can produce proof that they voted for the November 8th elections this year.”
Students who want to sign the petition can do so here by entering their name and Penn State email address.