Section: News

*NSYNC star gets out the vote

*NSYNC star gets out the vote

A piece of *NSYNC stardust landed on Kenyon’s campus Tuesday afternoon for National Voter Registration Day. Crowds of students flocked to meet Lance Bass, former member of the boy band *NSYNC, and Roberta (Robbie) Kaplan, one of the lawyers who argued the winning side in the 2013 Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor Supreme Court case at an event held in the atrium of Peirce Hall.

*NSYNC was a Grammy-nominated group whose second album, No Strings Attached, went RIAA-certified platinum in the early 2000s. *NSYNC also launched the solo career of singer, songwriter and actor Justin Timberlake. United States v. Windsor overturned part of the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act and ruled it unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the rights given to married couples.

The pair came to Kenyon on behalf of Hillary for America, which is Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Bass and Kaplan are gay and lesbian, respectively, and are passionate activists for LGBT+ rights, a social issue on which the Democratic and Republican presidential platforms differ. 

The meet-and-greet took place in the Borden Atrium of Peirce Hall, where the Kenyon Democrats have been registering voters this semester. Initially, the pair briefly spoke to the crowd, touching on the results of Monday night’s presidential debate, the importance of the Supreme Court in the upcoming election and of registering family and friends to vote. After, they took questions from the audience, and then were available for one-on-one conversations and photos

“What’s so encouraging about coming to these college campuses is seeing the world in good hands,” Bass said. “This is the most anti-LGBT platform that’s even been written,” he said in reference to the Republican Party’s platform. “It’s in writing that they want to take my marriage away, and they want to discriminate against me, and that’s just not right. In 2016 we can’t have discrimination written into law anymore…. It’s insane people think we could go to that era again.”

Kaplan also discussed the potential risks of the Republican platform. “If we don’t all act … we could lose this republic,” she said. This was not Kaplan’s first visit to Gambier: In her initial remarks to a group of students in Peirce, she said she visited a friend at Kenyon 30 years ago.

After taking questions from the audience, Bass and Kaplan stayed to answer individual students’ questions and take photos. Isabella Bird-Muñoz ’18 asked about the Clinton campaign’s plan to alleviate the Puerto Rican debt crisis. Bird-Muñoz is also a co-manager at Unity House, which Bass visited during his time on campus. Kaplan pointed to Trump’s comments at the debate wherein he suggested that the 2008 financial crisis was beneficial for his business. 

BrandonLee Cruz ’19 asked Bass and Kaplan about the issue of violence against transgender people of color in the United States. “It was just really powerful to see a woman who was actively on the legal level fighting for our rights,” he said, “and a celebrity who was fighting for our rights on a more social level.”

Cruz, who said he will vote for Clinton, added that, although he would have preferred specific policy proposals in response to his question, he was grateful for the experience to speak with Kaplan. “You obviously cannot just pull it out of a hat; she doesn’t know every single minute detail,” Cruz said. “I was really satisfied with the answer overall.”

Cruz was one of several students interviewed by LOGO, a cable television channel that specializes in LGBTQ+ content, after the event concluded.

While the celebrities worked the crowd, students and field organizers from the Hillary campaign followed behind, imploring students to sign up to help register students to vote.

Voter registration ends next Monday, Oct. 11 in the state of Ohio. If you registered last year at Kenyon, you will have to re-register with your new campus address. Voter registration forms can be found in Peirce Hall. If voting absentee visit for more details.


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