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ASUN gives all its student-athletes Election Day off from sport-related activities

The+ASUN+Conference+has+suspended+intercollegiate+play+until+possibly+April+fifth+at+the+earliest.++

ASUN Conference

The ASUN Conference has suspended intercollegiate play until possibly April fifth at the earliest.

Sarah Joram

Thousands of college student-athletes will have no excuse for not voting Nov. 3 – they have officially received the day off from all sport-related activities.

The University of North Florida is joining colleges and universities across the country in adopting an Election Day policy. Mandated in conjunction with the Atlantic Sun Conference – ASUN – student-athletes are required to have the day off from practice, competition and travel.

According to ASUN Commissioner Ted Gumbart, the momentum from other colleges and universities passing similar policies helped the ASUN address it themselves.

“We requested that the [Election Day] proposal come through the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee – SAAC – so the student-athletes built the proposal,” said Gumbart. “There was a previously scheduled session with our President’s Council, and we put it up for a vote. It passed unanimously.”

ASUN SAAC was already promoting a voter registration initiative when the idea of an Election Day policy was proposed. While the original push was just to get student-athletes registered to vote, ASUN SAAC President Arye Beck, who runs cross-country at Stetson University, realized that even if student-athletes registered, most would not make it to the polls because of their hectic schedules.

After hearing the proposal, UNF SAAC Co-President and swimmer Ashley Cozad surveyed UNF student-athletes about their opinions on having the day off from all sports activities.

“We represent [student-athletes]. So, it was our job to get an accurate representation of what the student-athletes at UNF thought,” said Cozad.

With most UNF student-athletes being in favor of the Election Day policy, Cozad reported back to the ASUN SAAC. Each school in the ASUN voted in favor of the policy.

LJ Estes, who plays soccer at UNF, was in favor of the proposal. After not being able to vote in the 2018 midterm election due to scheduling conflicts with classes, soccer practice, film screening and weights, he was relieved the ASUN proposed an Election Day policy.

“With the exception of Sundays, we have soccer practice every day,” said Estes. “We also watch film multiple times a week and have weight training twice a week. None of this is optional. Now, add that together with my classes and any homework I may have had. I was not going to be able to vote on Election Day.”

The ASUN includes approximately 3,000 student-athletes and hundreds of coaches. The passage of an Election Day policy will increase their availability to vote Nov. 3.

According to the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, among United States college and university students, voter turnout increased from 2012 to 2016 by about three percentage points, from 45.1% to 48.3%.

With Election Day policies in place, the ASUN and other colleges and universities including the Georgia Institute of Technology, UCLA and Wisconsin aim to contribute toward another increase in voter turnout.

Since the policy was passed, the ASUN has received positive feedback and looks to continue it in the future.

“The policy was written to be carried forward for every midterm and presidential election year,” said Gumbart. “So, this is where we will start, always subject to review once we get through the first year.”

___

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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