RyersonVotes is a non-partisan, student organization at Ryerson University that wants to double the number of people choosing to vote on-campus in the upcoming federal election.
In the last federal election, only 1,485 of 36,000 full-time Ryerson students voted on-campus. That’s less than two percent of the university’s population at the time.
“It’s sort of like going skating for the first time,” said John Beebe, the founder of the Democratic Engagement Exchange, the organization behind RyersonVotes. “If you’ve never been, the first time can be scary. If I have a good friend who promises to hold my hand, I’m much more likely to go.”
Firstly, the main focus of the RyersonVotes campaign is to help first-time voters get accustomed to voting. They are hosting over 22 events in the upcoming week. One of their events is in collaboration with RU Student Life. Students will get lunch and be walked over to the on-campus polls.
Taylor Deasley and Aysha Anwar are the leading organizers of RyersonVotes. They have observed that students often turn away from the polls due to inaccessibility and a sense of intimidation.
“My personal interest is to try and make politics a more hopeful, positive and engaging environment for everybody,” said Deasley, a third-year political science student at Ryerson. “We need to foster a culture of cooperation and community. That’s what people respond to.”
A majority of Ryerson students are aware of the on-campus initiatives. Additionally, many are eager to participate in the upcoming election on-campus from Oct. 5 to Oct. 9. Although they have informative tables around campus, some students are still unaware of RyersonVotes’ presence. Jennifer Miller, a human resources management student, was unaware of RyersonVotes. Once she found out about the initiative, she said, “If there was a table, I would go to it and check it out.”
In addition to on-campus outreach, RyersonVotes also promotes voting through social media, specifically through their Instagram account under the handle ryersonvotes. On Instagram, they have been successful in reaching hundreds of Ryerson students and connecting them to important voting resources.
“We’ve been able to talk to students firsthand, have their questions answered,” said Anwar, a third-year professional communications student. “And prove to them that what they care about matters.”
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.