Almost 100 students, adorned in bright yellow sashes with “Votes for Women” stamped across the front, milled around the Florida State Integration Statue Monday evening.
Students were rallying to celebrate the 91st anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. While the actual anniversary fell on Aug. 26, most students were still out of town for the summer. Mayor John Marks, said the rally should appeal to all students, regardless of race or gender.
“This is an American issue,” Marks told audience members. “As great as our forefathers were, they denied certain individuals, including women and slaves, some of their basic human rights.”
Matty Budesa, president of FSU’s College Democrats Women’s Caucus, said the event was necessary to promote female student involvement in the upcoming fall election. Members of the caucus were circulating throughout the predominately female crowd having students write down their names and contact information.
“I hear so many young people say that politics doesn’t affect them,” Budesa said. “We need to know that we didn’t always have this right. Hopefully this will encourage even those who are already registered to vote and research candidates and bring friends.”
The caucus, along with the FSU Women’s Center and the F-Word helped organize the event. The students marched around campus and collected signatures of students committing to the movement.
City Commissioner and Florida A&M alumnus Andrew Gillum said legislative policies are affecting minority students now more than ever.
“If college students have been watching what happened this last legislative session, the Republican legislature has done everything it can to make voting for young people, women and other minorities difficult,” Gillum said. “It’s second only to Jim Crow.”
Jessica Wong, 18, a freshman student at FSU, said, although she isn’t registered to vote, the rally inspired her to become more involved in voting and the political process.
“The time is now. Elections are starting now,” said the Miami native. “We need our voices to be heard…especially female minorities.”