UHD Social Work Students Participating in Voter Registration Initiative
Dr. Liza Lane’s Class Registering Houstonians to Vote Sept. 27 – 30 on Campus
By Mike Emery
The image under University of Houston-Downtown professor Dr. Liza Lane’s email signature says it all.
“Voting is social work,” reads a graphic embedded within her email template. It’s a message that reminds others of the connection between Lane’s academic discipline and one of Americans’ most basic rights. It’s also one she’s sharing with Honors students in her Introduction to Social Welfare Policy class.
In fact, Lane and her students are participating in a massive voter registration initiative with other UHD faculty (including Dr. Diane Miller, Associate Professor of Literacy and Dr. Elizabeth Gilmore, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice) and a number of community partners. The culmination of this project is a four-day registration drive conducted at UHD’s One Main Building.
Lane, Assistant Professor of Social Work, and students will register Houstonians to vote just outside of the UHD Bookstore from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 27, 29 and 30.
On Sept. 28, they will move their registration station outside to UHD’s Portico (just next to the METRO rail stop) as part of National Voter Registration Day. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on this day, they are part of a community-wide effort led by the League of Women Voters-Houston encouraging citizens to get registered. Lane, her College of Public Service colleagues and students also will be joined on National Voter Registration Day by the Latino advocacy group, Jolt Action.
In addition to partnering with Lane and UHD, the League of Women Voters-Houston is teaming with organizations such as KPRC Ch. 2, Out of the Closet Thrift Store, Harris County Public Libraries and the Houston Astros
Their efforts complement those of other Gators, including the Student Government Association. SGA has been hosting voter registration tables throughout campus, and its next event is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 22 at the Marilyn Davies College of Business.
The combined efforts of these local institutions, said Lane, are very much in line with the very definition of the profession she loves so dearly—social work.
“By definition, social work promotes change, strength and empowerment within communities,” she said. “Voting is essentially a form of social work in that it does facilitate change … and encourages participation in our communities. Our hope is to inspire others to take advantage of this opportunity to get registered, then go out and make their votes count in upcoming elections.”
Earlier this fall, Lane, her colleagues and students were trained as Texas Volunteer Deputy Registrars, who can officially register eligible voters. With new Texas laws affecting polls throughout the state, Lane is optimistic that her students' efforts will further inspire citizens to proactively seek out voting opportunities in their communities.
“As social workers, we are here to enhance the wellbeing of people,” Lane said. “We are passionate about that … and we’re able to support others so many ways. Helping our neighbors realize their potential in shaping their communities with a simple action...that so many take for granted...is certainly a first step in doing that.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 54,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College).
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.