As chants of, “Progress is on the ballot,” and “She wins, we win,” rang out across the UCF Reflecting Pond, nearly two dozen feminists gathered on the free speech lawn near the John C. Hitt Library to rally young people to get out and vote for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Members of the National Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority Foundation from Florida, New York and national branches came together on campus Thursday afternoon, just six days before the election, bringing with them a message for UCF students: Clinton should be the next president.
“We’re doing a get-out-to-vote [rally] to inspire students to get out to early vote if they can, and … if they can on Election Day … because the millennial vote is going to be the most important one,” said Josafat Alvarez, a sophomore political science major and president of the UCF chapter of NOW.
“I’ve seen, passionately, young people talking about who they’re for, the issues that they care about,” Alvarez, 19, said. “And I feel that we cannot effectively get those issues through if we don’t take part and vote.”
As students bustled by to and from classes, members of the groups, ranging in age from 74 to 19, shouted chants in support for Clinton and other members of the Democratic Party running in the election, such as congressional candidate Stephanie Murphy and senatorial candidate Patrick Murphy. They offered “Feminists for Hillary” stickers and passed out donuts, cookies and T-shirts. Some students even approached them and told their own reasons for voting for Clinton to the crowd.
Eleanor Smeal, the president of the Feminist Majority and a longtime leader for women’s rights, said that college students could be big players in this election.
“Young people want the change,” she said. “Young people don’t want the traditional roles.”
Smeal explained that many people still believe in traditional gender roles and because of these prejudices, can’t imagine a woman becoming the president of the country. Because of this, she said, women going out and voting is even more important.
“We’re 53 percent of the vote. Ten million more women will vote in November than men,” she said. “So women will have a great role, especially young women.”
For Terry O’Neill, the president of NOW, Clinton is the best choice for president because, she said, Clinton is the best choice for women.
“This is an unashamed and unapologetic feminist,” O’Neill said. “And because she is unapologetically feminist. … It is the first time that a major party presidential nominee has been so enthusiastic about embracing women’s equal access to reproductive health care. To me, that is absolutely huge. … If women can’t control the number and spacing of their pregnancies, they can’t contribute to their communities.”
“They can’t control their lives,” Smeal added.
“Hillary Clinton … has the chops. She’s put in the work. She has the talent. So that’s the winning combination,” said Nancy Hogshead-Makar, who is no stranger to hard work and talent.
During the 1984 Summer Olympics, Hogshead-Makar won three gold medals and one silver medal for the U.S. swimming team.
The Olympian, now a civil rights lawyer, said that a woman being elected president would have a personal meaning to her as well.
“Just thinking about it brings practically tears to my eyes,” she said, getting visibly emotional. “I have 11-year-old twin girls and for them to know that no position of leadership is out of the question. … There’s so many leadership positions where … when people think of the position, they think ‘male.’”
She added that in order for a Clinton presidency to become a reality, young people need to get out and have their voices heard.
“Millennials … that is power, baby” she said. “Voting is power.”