By Courtney Hoffman
Originally published Step. 27, 2018
The main thing that sets Mount Mercy apart from other colleges is its spirit of service and dedication to making the community a better place. Despite only moving in a little over a month ago, freshman Emma Lantz has been working hard to do her part in keeping this spirit alive.
Lantz has a lot on her plate as she pursues a double major in criminal justice and psychology with a Spanish minor. She’s a member of the law and politics club, the eco club, and SAVS on campus. She’s also been working tirelessly with NextGen America, a nonprofit committee dedicated to political action and sustainable living, to encourage students to vote.
Lantz says she didn’t grow up in a particularly political family but had been wanting to get more politically involved. That’s when she found NextGen.
“I started volunteering with NextGen after March for Our Lives came to Cedar Rapids,” she said. “It kind of snowballed from there and I just love it.”
Her main focus is to get people out to the polls for the midterm elections on Nov. 6, and to let them know that they have the ability to vote while helping students register.
“Just in Iowa, there’s 600,000 potential young voters, but we vote at the lowest rate of any demographic,” Lantz said. “So, it’s really hard to get our voices heard when we don’t vote. So, we’re just trying to register students to vote, pledge them to vote to make sure they do get out to the polls in November.”
So far, Lantz has had a booth at the involvement fair, a few tabling events outside the UC, and had personally visited several classrooms on campus to share information about voting and registration resources.
The reaction overall has been mixed with some professors saying they’d prefer to keep politics out of the classroom. Overall, though, Lantz says reception has been positive. Several talks with administration have left an impact, and many are excited to see her hard work come to light.
“Me being able to get the word out about it and registering more people to vote and getting a voting place on campus is something they’re really looking forward to, which has been good to see,” Lantz said. “It’s nice to see that reaction.”
Though she hasn’t done anything like this before, Lantz is extremely pleased with the results. All 100 signatures needed to add a new polling place on campus have been collected and turned into the auditor, making it possible for students to vote on campus. She’s hoping that easy access to the polls will further encourage students to vote for the midterms.
“The main thing that I want young people to know is that your voice matters, and that voting is an important role that you play in democracy in general,” Lantz said. “And even though it is kind of scary with politics, it is still an important part of our culture and the way our politics do end up playing out. Please register to vote. If not with me, online.”
Students can register to vote online at nextgenamerica.org/register.
Editor’s Note: Related commentary, staff editorial.