New student organization helps students vote in style (A MAG)

voting in style (rectangle)

A new student-led initiative on campus is ready to make their mark on the Kent community.

Under the direction of Lauren Copeland, an assistant professor at the Fashion School, Voting in Style was formed in order to get fashion students more involved in politics.

Copeland’s desire to start this initiative began when she realized her students needed to be more aware of how politics influence the way the fashion industry behaves.

“I realized there was sort of a disconnect (with my students) with how it’s (fashion and politics) all connected, so I thought it would be good to start a group that can start disseminating that information especially to younger generations,” she said. 

“They are the ones reaping the benefits or disadvantages of whatever is being decided based on the people we are voting for.”

Moreover, Copeland wanted to help students understand their voices matter.

“I wanted to just make it aware that we all have a voice, even if you are 18 or 80 years old,” she said. 

After thinking things through, Copeland proposed her idea to her students and asked that they email her if they had any interest. As she began to receive some feedback, she put together a meeting with those students who were interested to discuss the initiative and what it could do for Kent.

After sharing ideas at the meeting, Copeland became increasingly optimistic this new initiative could make a positive impact on the Kent community, even if only in small numbers.

“If we can get people around campus to take an interest, I think that just trickles out, sort of like a snowball effect,” Copeland said. 

After the meeting, two students decided to take charge. The now-presidents, sophomore fashion design major Remi Meeker and junior fashion merchandising major Trinity Rocha, are ready to shed light on the importance of being politically aware and show others how much politics influence sustainability.

The focus Kent’s fashion program has put on sustainability has caused Meeker to become more politically aware for her future career and she believes it is important for others in the fashion program to be more aware too.

“Coming to Kent, a lot of our classes are focused on sustainability in the fashion program,” Meeker said, “So to just learn about everything that’s going on in our industry and hearing what different candidates are about and how much sustainability can impact politics (is important).”

Going forward, Voting in Style hopes to place a lot of emphasis on educating people on voting. 

Meeker explained how Generation Z can have a huge impact on the outcome of the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

“As Generation Z comes into the age where they can vote, they will have one of the largest voting percentages of people in America…so it’s really just informing our generation in the community in Kent,”she said.

Because of this, Voting in Style wants to educate people on political candidates and their policies.

Rocha thinks this is especially important because ultimately, the candidates are the ones who will represent us as citizens. 

In addition to informing people about candidates, Voting in Style hopes to assist with finding voting locations, filling out absentee ballots and meeting voting deadlines.

Meeker said the organization can help people double check if they are registered, as it may be necessary to re-register due to purging.

According to The Hill, purging, or cleaning up voter lists, is routinely done. However, a 2013 Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act no longer requires counties to have federal permission to purge. This has enabled more discrimination to occur.

“A lot of people after last year’s election were purged and are now not registered, but they don’t tell you that,” she said. “We can (help you) check.”

Voting in Style is continuing to grow and learn and Meeker hopes that people who wish to join can help it to do so.

“We’re still figuring things out, as (the initiative) is brand new,” she said. “There are lots of groups that we need help filling up…and if anyone has ideas they’re welcome to pitch them to us. There’s no time commitments and it is free.”

Those uninterested in becoming an initiative member can still follow Voting in Style’s social media to stay informed.

“If they just want to follow what’s happening over this next year and stay more informed and learn more about sustainability and politics and fashion, that’s fine,” Meeker said.

As the initiative begins to take flight, Copeland hopes that Voting in Style can help inspire people to take action.

“We all have choices to make and we can all make a difference,” she said. “We don’t have to sit on the couch and wait for someone else to do it. We can do it ourselves.”

Contact Morgan Smith at [email protected].