On Feb. 18, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz will visit UTSA’s campus for the first time. The controversial politician — whom some suspect has his eyes on the White House — will likely discuss a school voucher program and may also address the role of government (or lack thereof) in higher education.
But while a politician glowing in the national spotlight is taking time to engage students at UTSA, the university is still struggling to gain a stronger foothold in in the local political sphere.
Although UTSA’s standing within the community has grown in recent years, it will not be an early voting site for this year’s primary election. Though reasons for the decision are valid (poor parking and other logistics are a legitimate concern) these challenges are not insurmountable, as proven by UTSA’s status as a voting location in the past.
While UTSA does not need a voting location to demonstrate that it is a bastion of political activity — we have already been consistently at or very near the top of national voter registration efforts, among other accomplishments — being able to host a voting site would help solidify UTSA’s reputation as a center of political activity and activism. A petition responding to the news received 690 signatures seemingly overnight, emphasizing the desire of UTSA students to be a politically engaged. This all says nothing of the challenges presented to students who lack a car and must rely on a friend or shuttle to get them to the voting booth.
Additionally, voting sites are traditionally often located at the metaphorical heart of a community, places such as libraries and fire stations. As UTSA continues to grow and expand into an integral part of San Antonio, as well as the culture of its immediate neighborhood around the Main Campus, it would only be appropriate to have a voting site at what is becoming one of the cultural hubs of the San Antonio community.
There is a perception that young people are disinterested in politics, but when a petition to be more politically engaged can approach 700 signatures is that really the case? Students at UTSA have demonstrated that they can be an active force in politics, and UTSA itself has more than proven that it is an integral part of San Antonio’s cultural fabric.
UTSA should be a site for voting in any election, not only because of its standing in the community, but also to encourage its students to be more politically engaged.