To add to the variety of registration opportunities on campus, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) held a voter registration drive on Sept. 20. This event helped to supplement efforts from Gund Gallery and Kenyon Democrats. ODEI partnered with the Human Rights Campaign, a LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization, to host the drive.
Members of Unity House, Crozier Center for Women and the Human Rights Campaign volunteered at the table in front of Peirce Hall to help students with registration.
“There is a statistically significant amount of trans people who don’t want to register to vote because of possible prejudice in the process,” Grace Harris ’20, co-manager of Unity House, said.
Harris noted that, while one of the purposes of the drive was to make sure that trans students specifically had this opportunity to register in a space where they felt comfortable, it was also open for anyone who had not yet registered to vote.
Around 200 people stopped by the table and about 50 people registered, according to Assistant Director for ODEI Timothy Bussey.
“We really wanted to make sure that we had a queer organization that was also facilitating the voter registration drive,” Bussey said. “We’re very thankful to see the work that’s already been going on campus to get people encouraged to vote and participate in civic engagement, but we wanted to also make sure that we were creating very visible opportunities for our trans students here at Kenyon.”
Bussey recently published an article in The Conversation about the barriers the trans community faces during both voter registration and the voting process itself, such as obtaining correctly gendered IDs.
“ID laws for transgender people vary by state, and they often involve numerous hurdles. This ranges from restrictions in state law to bureaucratic obstacles involving complex layers of medical, state or federal paperwork,” Bussey wrote in the article. “An analysis by the Transgender Law Center shows that fewer than 10 states have laws that allow people to change their gender markers without cumbersome amounts of paperwork and documentation.”
Bussey also noted that some students stopped by the registration table after seeing the protest on Middle Path. “Some of them were telling us that had happened, but a lot of them were also expressing a lot of good feelings,” he said. “They had just walked by this very charged space and on the way to Peirce, they actually saw our table, and I think it provided some uplift there.”
In addition to the registration drive, the Human Rights Campaign also held an Equality Academy Training open to the Kenyon community on Sept. 25, where Kyle Marcum, a representative from the organization, spoke about ways in which the community could get involved with supporting LGBTQ+ rights.