Divine Nine Groups to Register Student Voters at Football Games – GDN Exclusive “A Call to Colors” Vol. II, Part XXIIIby Cash Michaels, GDN Staff Writer September 13, 2019
When the Eagles of North Carolina Central University face off in their home opener against the Vikings of Elizabeth City State University on Sept. 21st at Durham’s O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium, all of the important action won’t just be on the football field.
There will be important action off-field too, as members of Divine Nine fraternities and sororities will man voter registration tables in an aggressive effort to register as many potential student voters as possible in preparation for the critical upcoming 2020 elections.
Indeed, according to Gary Wood, recent alumnus of NCCU, and 6th District Voter Registration Education and Mobilization Co-Chair for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Divine Nine groups hope to setup similar tables at football season home openers for both HBCU and predominately white institutions throughout North Carolina in the coming months, in addition to other on-campus activities employed to promote voter education -registration and mobilization through student civic engagement.
So, the activity can happen at NCCU, as well as NC State or UNC – Chapel Hill season home openers, as long as Divine Nine chapters are represented on campus.
“[The Sept. 21st Eagles versus Vikings home opener] is sort of the model for other chapters in our organization,” Wood told GDN. ‘Last year we had the Voter Registration Cookout where we had a DJ and a grill outside the NCCU School of Law Building. During that event, we registered over 300 students, and also we had the largest turnout for voting at that precinct.”
Wood also noted the sponsored “March to the Polls” at NCCU last year, where the NCCU Sound Machine marching band helped lead students to vote on Election Day. Per that same election, students met at the Student Union, and then were driven to the polls in personal cars if they didn’t have transportation to cast their ballots, and then were taken back to the Union.
“So, we have various [activities for student voting engagement] that we plan to do again this year, and do it with more planning so that we’ll have a better turnout,” Wood said, indicating that some of the activities last year were rushed, even though they were ultimately successful.
This year, and going forward, he hopes for “…more hands-on deck.”
“I know that we can probably triple the number of students that we ask to come out to vote, and hopefully this model will become the standard for each and every other school.
Randall Eaton, the Omega Psi Phi Voter Registration Education chair, says Wood is in charge of North Carolina Voter Registration and Mobilization for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and has been meeting with other Divine Nine officers at NCCU, as well as other Omegas on campuses across the state, by conference call, so that they can also coordinate with other Divine Nine officers in planning student voter registration activities, including home game registrations.
“He’s putting his infrastructure together now,” Eaton says of Wood.
The goal is to have everything ready – including refreshers on voter registration training – before students return to campus for the upcoming school year.
‘They’re doing this as a dry-run for things to continue throughout 2019, and over into 2020,” Eaton told GDN, noting that they want to be ready to engage freshmen coming for student orientations that start in January, making sure they’re registered, know where they’re nearest voting precincts are if they’re not voting back in their hometowns.
The kick-off for this activity is the Divine Nine football home opener voter registration, Eaton says, emphasizing that it’s “…not limited to that.” “Our [Divine Nine] students on each of the campuses are coming together and doing it as a team.”
So, at one home game, the Deltas may head up voter registration, even though all Divine Nine chapters will be represented. The following home game, the Kappas may lead; the next, the Alphas, etc…
“The Omegas….we have a strategic plan so all of our chapters will have a voter registration-education-mobilization plan, we call it VREM, which gives them step-by-step as to how they should go about it, what the process should look like, and examples of [what they should do]. “
Eaton says Gary Wood has modified the VREM for undergraduates., targeting North Carolina counties with the most unregistered African American voters with WREM efforts.
With modifications as needed, D-9 organizations should…..
- Create a standing voter participation committee within the organization.
- Ask each committee members to volunteer 8, 16, 24 hours or more per election cycle for voter registration, education and mobilization activities.
- Volunteer in partnership with the local NAACP branches or other nonpartisan community- based organizations (Divine Nine, HBCU alumni chapters, college student groups) which will help coordinate area efforts.
- Have a church committee member assigned to local NAACP or community-based organizational meetings to help keep your church committee abreast of its civic engagement activities.
- Keep record of all volunteer hours.
Special note – GDN Publisher Peter Grear, sponsor of “A Call to Colors” effort, asks each participating voter mobilization group to email ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and request that Greater Diversity News publish an article about its efforts to be included in GDN’s updated information and features about “A Call to Colors.”
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