Ohio legislators: Bring our campus community together

CSU’s campus is split between two voting districts, leaving some students frustrated

Advocates for fair maps marching as part of Ohio’s Fair Maps Day event at the Ohio Statehouse on September 21, 2021. Photo courtesy of Paul Becker

At Cleveland State University, our campus has been split between Ohio State House District 10 and 11 for the past decade. Splitting campus communities like ours dilutes our voting power as students and affects our ability to elect representatives who will understand and advocate for our needs. That is why we joined Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project as redistricting fellows. As redistricting fellows, they empower us to make college student voices heard as part of Ohio’s redistricting process. On October 27 and 28, we testified at the People’s Redistricting Hearings, hosted by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. Our testimony focused on keeping colleges and universities together while advocating for a more transparent and accessible redistricting process.

Currently, Ohio’s communities are among the most gerrymandered in the nation. In order to address this, in 2018, the people of Ohio voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Congressional Redistricting Procedures Amendment, which offered a more bipartisanship approach to keeping our communities together. Unfortunately, that has not been our reality. Opportunities for public input as part of Ohio’s redistricting process have been extremely limited, offered on short notice, and centralized at the state capitol. Of note, the Ohio State Senate redistricting committee scheduled a public hearing on November 4 for the public to respond to Congressional map proposals. However, Republican legislators released their Congressional map proposal less than 24 hours prior to the start of the public hearing, which offers very little time for the public to review and prepare their responses.

The Congressional map proposals from both major political parties (see Democrat proposal, Republican proposal) do a poor job of keeping college and university communities together. It is important for communities to be kept together in order to best advocate for their needs and to avoid confusion at the polls. Many institutions are split between multiple districts, so those campuses have multiple different representatives, different ballots, and different polling places entirely based on where your dorm might be on campus.

Looking forward, everyone- including college students- needs to take advantage of opportunities to make their voices heard at the polls and whenever public input is asked for. These are how we can hold our elected officials accountable and get the needs of our communities heard and addressed. As redistricting fellows, we will continue to be voices for college students in Ohio’s redistricting process, and we hope other students will step up and make their voices heard, too.

Aleena Babar is a junior majoring in international relations and minoring in biology and
psychology, and Arwa Elmashae is a junior majoring in international relations and minoring in
political science and Arabic at Cleveland State University. They are redistricting fellows
with Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project.

Author: Aleena Babar

Aleena is an undergrad student at Cleveland State University. She is majoring in Biology and Nursing and plans on going to med school for neurology. She is part of the Jack, Joesph, and Morton Mandel scholars academy and like to read in her free time.

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