By Emily Leayman
One hour. Four and a half miles. Afternoon highway traffic. Manure-covered highway shoulders. These were the conditions of the Student Government Board-led walk to the District 3 polling location, where on-campus students were to vote.
SGB President Joe Scoboria, who organized the walk and bus transportation to the Maxatawny Township Building, led the way with the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties President Ken Mash.
The walk started at Keystone Hall and continued to Main Street and Route 222 north. Students carried signs that protested the location of the polls. Along the way, many cars and tractor trailers honked in support as the students held up their signs. Only one driver yelled at the group for blocking Quarry Road.
As cars honked, freshman political science major Sierra Lynch led the group’s cheers. Lynch participated in the walk to raise political awareness and prove to the Berks County Commissioners (and other politicians) that students are interested in voting.
Freshman communication studies major Maria Sunick added, “I want people to see [that] as college students we will do all that it takes to let our voices be heard.”
Lynch and Sunick are both SGB representatives and were part of the initiative to get students to the polls.
Lauren Gutowski, a freshman business major, said, “I’m here today to make a difference for the college campus and have my opinion [be] heard.”
The county moved the polling location, which was originally located at Keystone Hall, was because of low student voting participation and difficulty for Kutztown residents to park there. The Berks County Commissioners changed the location in August 2013.
Scoboria is hopeful that the commissioners will consider reversing their decision. SGB painted on a large sign: “If you can walk to the liquor store, you can walk to the poll.” The students’ concern was that the Wine and Spirits Store was a little less than a mile from campus but the polling location was almost five miles away. Scoboria calculated the distances on MapQuest.
APSCUF members, including KU chapter President Paul Quinn, drove alongside the walkers and acted as buffers between the group and highway traffic.
Several faculty members contributed money for the buses than ran all day from campus to the polls, according to Mash. APSCUF assisted with voter registration in October and handed out non-partisan voting information. APSCUF is working on all 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education college campuses to get students to vote.
“Faculty care about students and their right to vote,” said Mash. “We see this as an act of voter repression.”
Scoboria was optimistic about voter turnout during the targeted times of the free hour and after early evening classes.
As the walkers arrived at the township building, they witnessed several student voters just leaving the booths.
Before the group left for campus, Lisa Schnell, another voter and wife of KU geography professor Steve Schnell, stopped to tell them, “I have never been prouder of Kutztown students.”
A short video of the walk can be found below.