NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently held a 45-minute workshop on absentee voting to educate members of its 97-man football roster on how to ensure their ballots are counted in one of the most anticipated presidential elections in decades.
Coach Rod Reed hosted the “The TSU Tiger’s Guide to Absentee Voting Virtual Seminar,” which was facilitated by Tiara Thomas, student Trustee on the University’s Board of Trustees. Thomas’ Zoom presentation included steps to requesting an absentee ballot, filling it out and returning the document on time. It also included a demonstration of the application process, as well as a chatroom for participants to ask questions. Election Day is Nov. 3.
Dieuseul Stcyr, a defensive back from Macon, Georgia; and Cam Durley, an offensive tackle from Houston, Texas, said the seminar was an eye-opener for them as first-time voters. The two players for the Tigers have completed their registration and will be voting, thanks to the urging of their coach.
“First and foremost, the seminar was very important. We need to hear this kind of message more often,” said Stcyr, a senior communications major. “For many of us, like me, growing up at home we did not get this knowledge of what it means to vote, where to vote and what you need to vote.”
Durley, a senior human performance and sport studies major, added that the workshop was very informative and “that all students need to attend.”
“I really liked it,” said Durley. “In addition to information coach gave us, this seminar put me in the right direction and what I need to do to get my vote in.”
Thomas provided players with information on how to access and navigate their respective secretaries of state’s websites, as well as the proper forms of identification needed to complete an absentee application.
“I am glad to see the football team 100-percent registered to vote,” said Thomas, a junior political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi. “Whether they know it or not, as leaders on this campus, people look to them and follow their example. So, I hope many more will join to make an even bigger impact this year. We have students here at TSU that are not from Tennessee, and this means they will be voting absentee or mail-in ballot.”
Coach Reed said with the looming social and civil unrests, and ever-present effort to suppress votes, it was important for players to know how critical their participation is as citizens.
“I think that it is very important for our kids to understand what their role is in what’s going on in our country,” said Reed, who announced a 100-percent voter registration for the entire football team.
“Our kids are looking at what’s going on in this society – from George Floyd to Breonna Taylor and all those things that happened over the summer. Those things left a lot of them angry. Besides, we have to educate our kids on the process and how voter suppression occurs. So, we are trying to get them the mechanisms to be able to vote and be effective with their ballots.”
Reed issued a challenge to all HBCU sports programs, especially the Ohio Valley Conference, to get their students registered to vote.
Thomas, who volunteered to follow up with the players, has been a crusader on campus for voter education and registration. She is the creator and chair of the TSU Votes Student Coalition. Recently, she partnered with two other student organizations to host a daylong voter registration rally on campus that featured Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, and Davidson County Election Commission Board member AJ Starling.
Thomas said in 2018, only 34 percent of the campus actively voted.
“As trustee this year, my goal is to double that turnout, if not 100 percent,” she said.
Thomas is a member of TSU’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands, where she plays the French horn. She said she is working to accomplish what the football team has done, and get a 100-percent voter registration for band members.
For information on deadlines to register, early voting, mail-in voting, and absentee ballots, visit the website of the Secretary of State in your state.
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About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.