Fairfield University student-athletes have hit a remarkable milestone, reaching 100 percent voter registration for all of those eligible to vote, less than a month ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3.
Spearheaded by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the STAGS LEAD Voter Education Program was established this past June to encourage student-athletes to exercise their civic responsibility of voting.
The initiative has since been endorsed by all 20 varsity groups, and is meant to “encourage student-athletes to get involved and make informed decisions in politics and government at the national, state and local levels,” per the official release from Fairfield’s athletics website.
“I am very proud that our coaches and student-athletes are willing to take a collaborative leadership role at this critical time and in anticipation of Election Day,” said Paul Schlickmann, director of athletics at Fairfield University. “I am confident that the enthusiasm and passion of our student-athletes will set an example for all members of our community to exercise their right to vote and have their voices heard.”
Not only will the STAGS LEAD Voter Education program walk student-athletes who are eligible to vote through the registration process, but it also will serve to educate these participants on political candidates of every level.
Zach Dayton, Fairfield’s deputy director of athletics stated that the Department of Athletics has partnered with the University to use voter registration and education resources, which are available to the entire campus community, to contribute to this program.
“This was a huge collaborative effort. The Student Athletic Advisory Committees across the MAAC [Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference] were heavily involved in a voting initiative that was similar,” said Dayton, emphasizing the importance of teamwork in this mission. “We at the forefront saw the need for the STAGS LEAD program, and the SAAC groups across the 11 MAAC schools also had the same intent.”
Fairfield’s SAAC group is led by Alison Sexton, who is the senior associate director of athletics and internal affairs and senior woman administrator. Additionally, Anne Murray and Kara McHugh, who are the assistant head coach and assistant coach respectively of the women’s lacrosse program aided in achieving this remarkable goal.
Dayton feels that, in general, it is vital for administrators to focus on the development of the whole person when guiding students through their journey at Fairfield, on all fronts, whether that be in the classroom or on the athletic field.
Although this push comes amidst a tense political climate, Dayton assures that regardless of the timing, “the ability and the education to vote is imperative every year.”
He implored that this is not a plan which will be forgotten after the 2020 presidential election; from here on out it will take place every year, regardless of which public officials are up for election.
“For us, we had a lot of student-athletes asking how they can get involved in civic engagement, and the best process to do that is to vote,” said Dayton.
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