From Anne Green ’22 Takes Civic Engagement to a New Level by Glenn Jochum on Stony Brook University News, September 16, 2020
An invitation to take part in a panel discussion by global health advocate Chelsea Clinton is just one of the many distinctions that Anne Green ’22 enjoys.
Community service is required of all Stony Brook University Honors College students, and Green, who is one, takes stewardship to another level entirely. The environmental design, policy and planning major, who is minoring in globalization studies and international relations with a concentration in law, seems poised to enter public service should she choose.
The Brentwood, NY, native averaged 39 hours a week as an undergraduate coordinator with Stony Brook’s Center for Civic Justice. Since 2018, she and a team of classmates empowered their peers to become lifelong local and global citizens through voter and civic registration, registering approximately 7,000 students to vote via class visits, student orientation and tabling activities.
“Prior to COVID-19, orientation and class visits were a really fun, sociable experience where I got to register more than 4,000 students to vote in just a year and a half,” Green said. “With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were forced to adapt while still meeting New York State voter registration and absentee ballot deadlines. Together, my team and I were able to help nearly 1,500 students apply for absentee ballots ahead of the Presidential primary election.”
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 did not end there,” she added. “We had to immediately shift gears to be able to prepare all of our students for the general election in November,” Green said. “We knew we had to start preparing right away in order to ready ourselves for every unpredictable circumstance that COVID could throw our way. Given this, I hosted 10 orientation sessions a week, registering our freshmen students to vote over the summer.”
Her hard work got her noticed: Green was one of only 100 students nationwide to be asked to participate in the Harvard University National Campaign Conference, which was held just before the pandemic struck this past February. During the conference, young leaders facilitated discussions, panels and town halls about a variety of pertinent political issues, and trained students to increase civic engagement back on their campuses and in their communities.
At the conference, Green exchanged information about voter engagement efforts in the context of the Presidential primary election.
During the pandemic, she participated in the New York Voter Engagement Summit, which brought 70 New York State universities and colleges together to discuss and share their best practices.
The invite from Chelsea Clinton to be a panelist in “Reinventing Civic Engagement: Voting, Volunteerism and Advocacy for the Next Generation of Leaders,” which is scheduled to take place in October, came as a result of Green’s involvement in the Up to Us program, an organization that aims to teach college students about fiscal policy/responsibility. The panel will focus on how young people are reinventing civic engagement, particularly during the pandemic.
She has also served as a bipartisan moderator at seven Community Dialogues through the Center for Civic Justice. Community Dialogues are opportunities for students, faculty, staff and other community members to come together to develop a comprehensive and better-informed understanding of the nation’s most pressing issues.
Every other Friday, Green created a video in which she shared the “unsettling truth” about disenfranchising laws in existence today.
The purpose of choosing that topic, she said, was to spread awareness about the lengths to which local, state and federal representatives may sometimes go to restrict a person’s right to vote based on income and race.
“With this information in mind, I hoped it would energize students to fight back and not allow their voices to be systematically suppressed any longer,” she said. “Our votes and our voices are so important; if they weren’t, there wouldn’t be so many barriers to helping young people vote.”
By the end of summer orientation, Green and her team had registered an additional 2,100 students to vote, but she said that freshmen are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to educating her peers on voting issues.
“Most students don’t realize that when they move around on campus, that is a change in their address, and they must update their voter registration information with their new on-campus address,” Green said. “Given that it is the fall semester, nearly every single student living on campus has moved to a new quad, building or room that requires a voter information update.”
For the past few weeks, Green and her team have been working to identify which students are registered to vote on campus and those who changed addresses or moved off campus. The team has been reaching out to them to help them stay up to date.
“With this complex, comprehensive voter engagement method, we ensure that our students may always be able to exercise their right to vote,” she said.
She added that this past summer she and the team discovered new practices that make the voter registration/mobilization process accessible and engaging, and new opportunities presented themselves. Specifically, because of Up to Us, she was able to secure funding that would support the effort she put into civic engagement work over the summer.
“As one of five students in the country selected for a Civic Engagement Fellowship, I was able to turn a potentially lost summer into an opportunity to double efforts to raise awareness among my peers,” she said.
But she looked after the material welfare of her fellow students as well, knowing that it is difficult to care about bigger issues when basic needs are not being met. During the pandemic, Green also applied herself to other areas in her community that could use support, such as assisting with the Stony Brook University Food Pantry and delivering packages to Stony Brook students in need.
“I wanted to get them the resources they needed with minimal risk,” she said.
And as is typical of Green, she even looked beyond her immediate surroundings to help improve the plight of others nearly 9,000 miles away. Inspired by two and a half months of research she conducted in Madagascar, she raised $1,700 for food and scholarships for Malagasy students during the pandemic.