Early voting is open across North Carolina – and grad students should pay attention.
The last contest for Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court, between Cheri Beasley and Paul Newby, was decided by 401 votes. That’s less than 5% of the graduate and professional population at UNC. Graduate and professional student votes could determine the outcome of close contests on the ballot this year.
The issues on the ballot affect us. They influence UNC’s relationship to the state and to the System office; that relationship in turn influences the metrics by which UNC is evaluated, the funding it receives, and the priorities that are viewed as central or ancillary to our educational mission. All of that relates to how much it costs to get a degree from UNC, what kind of aid we can provide to students with financial need, and what kind of resources are available to support graduate stipends.
The students in the Graduate School do work that benefits this state: we perform research, we teach, and we serve. Voting is part of that service. It’s also how we can help ourselves.
We contribute to the local and state economies, and continue contributing after we attain our degrees. Most of our spending goes straight into the economy in basic needs: housing, food, recreation, healthcare, and so forth.
Graduate students can have affordable education and they can have adequate wages if we get allies on board with our needs. To do that, we have to show that we become a part of the community here, not just transient interlopers, and voting is one of the ways that we can prove that.
So check out the table, grab a friend, and go vote!
Theodore Nollert is the president of the UNC Graduate and Professional Student Government, and a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature.