From the Archives: Voter registration: Step in the right direction| September 21, 2016
This piece was originally published on this day, September 22, 1992.
Another acronym has hit the Princeton campus. No, it's not SHARE, and it's probably even better than DEC.
Princeton... meet Cover, the Coalition for Voter Education and Registration, established September 14, 1992 (one week ago) at 11:15 p.m. in a dark, crowded room. Coverclaims to be an original, Old Nassau's first non-partisan alliance designed to register Princeton students for a national election since Princeton's conception in 1746, when George Washington was still in diapers.
Not bad. But, indeed, Coverhas its work cut out. Perhaps the reason it can claim to be the first such coalition is because Princetonians have, typically, neglected crucial issues shaping our society. Regardless of our past, the current trend on campus is one of disregard characterized by thick crustations of apathy.
To succeed, Covermust chisel through these layers of ignorance and carelessness.
Apathy is something that seems easy to talk about at Princeton. And, won't you agree, what a paradox. Here we are, the best and brightest, studying in the nation's second best university (U.S. News & World Report, September, 1992), yet this campus remains aloof when it comes to key political, social issues. And that's a generous description. The campus is bereft of the activism that our community of great minds should foster.
Princeton has been accused of being too cerebral, and rightly so. Every student spends hours in classdiscussing human nature, the problems faced by humanity since the beginning of history, and even how to make our world a better place, yet we seem incapable of making the transition from the theoretical to the actual.
Once we exit Robertson Hall, we choose to forgetthe issues that bombard our society and are complacent to live in our sheltered, high tootin' Princeton environment.
This is the uphill battle Coverfaces.
Certainly, no one expects this budding coalition to cure the problems of Princeton, but by registering students to vote, Coverwill indeed take a step in the right direction.
Voting is something that Americans in general take for granted. Less than half the population voted in the last presidential election. But voting is something that we as students must take as a moral imperative.
By registering to vote, each student chooses a life of intention, one characterized by an awareness of and devotion to the events that shape our lives.
When you consider the sky-rocketing drop-out rate; when you consider that by some estimates, one in every three Americans will be illiterate by the year 2000; when you consider that America is the standard of democracy for the world; when you consider that millions of people in our troubled world can only dream of the right to vote, complacency from any college student is intolerable.
An inherent commitment to future issues of consequence complements our moral obligation to vote. By registering to vote, each student lays the foundation for his or her own student activism. By registering to vote, each student chooses a life of intention, one characterized by an awareness of and devotion to the events that shape our lives.
The overused yet underappreciated Edmund Burke quote states, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Today, when we look ourselves in the eye, we see apathy. The world moves along while we live happily ever after.
More important than who will remain standing in November is on whose shoulders that person will stand.
It is essential that, as students of Princeton University, we are heard. It is imperative that we live with intention. No longer are we the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today.
Coveroffers you that option: the chance to be heard, the tool to construct student activism. The rest is up to you.
by Marc Sternberg '95