HU versus HU the competition starts before the game
Long before any shoulder pads or helmets were put on, the Hampton University versus Howard University rivalry began. On Friday, students filled the Hampton University Student Center for music, fun and with a purpose. This year, Hampton University and Howard University had a voter registration competition. Each school competed to see who could register the most voters before Saturday’s game.
To get students motivated, the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brought Marlon Waynes and Jurnee Smollett (from the motion picture Great Debaters) to inspire students to vote. Waynes, a former Howard University student, used humor to get his message across.
“You guys need to get out and vote because I’d love to see a black man on the next dollar bill,” Waynes said.
Smolett gave a brief overview of the Barack Obama’s platform and how it affected college students. From raising the Pell grant award amount to tax relief for anybody who goes to college, Smolett stressed that Obama was for everyone having equal access to higher education.
“Barack is for the college student, I know everybody could use some more money from that Pell grant,” Smolett said.
Using a mix of entertainment and information Hampton University students got the message.
“It was really good to hear some of the things Obama stood for,” Hampton University senior Rachel Lewis said. “I haven’t been up on the specifics of this election so it really helped to hear what he would do for college students.”
The voter registration drive didn’t stop with celebrity appearances, volunteer students moved throughout the crowd asking people if they were registered to vote and giving them the proper paper work to fill out if they were not. They also had a help desk that provided students with answers about absentee voting and claiming residency in the state of Virginia since they were attending college.
The information given on Friday helped to empower students by giving them all of the facts of voting and registering to vote.
“I didn’t know you could vote in Virginia if you attended school here.” Sophomore Margrett Harris said. “I thought I was going to have to go through the process of filling out an absentee ballott. I learned a lot today.”
Both Smolett and Waynes urged students to vote from the state of Virginia. When Smolett asked for a show of all registered voters, over 90 percent of the crowd raised their hands. When she asked for those registered in Virginia many of the hands went down.
“Virginia is a battleground state and we need all the votes we can get to win this state,” Smolett said. “Being registered to vote is good, but being registered to vote in Virginia is even better.”