Senator to encourage minorities to vote

USF’s first black student body vice president, Lesley Miller, knows the discouragement minorities may face when going to the voting polls.

And tonight the Florida senator will speak to members of the Black Student Union to encourage them to participate in political events.

“Since election week is coming up, we needed someone to show us why we need the minority to voice opinions on the ballot,” said Urvick St. Jean, president of the Black Student Union.

Miller was elected as a Democratic representative for the Florida Senate in 2000. He is a Tampa native and graduated from USF in 1978. Miller also served as a member of the Board of Regents.

St. Jean said the Black Student Union has about 150 members and they wanted the senator to speak because he is the organization’s former president.

“We’re hoping he can give us some words of encouragement, to help us take a step forward,” St. Jean said.

St. Jean said some plans established by representatives, such as the One Florida initiative, might not always give minorities more opportunities. One Florida guarantees that the top 20 percent of high school graduates will be accepted to an institution of higher education regardless of race or ethnicity.

St. Jean said if more minorities vote, there is a better chance to have a voice in government that can ensure decisions will not be discriminatory toward minorities.

“If we elect someone that will help minorities, maybe all that would change,” St. Jean said. “We need to take a step forward.”

St. Jean said Miller understands the struggle minorities might face when deciding to run for a political office.

“We were very impressed that he was the first black student body vice president,” St. Jean said. “That makes us the elite in an aspect to know how he felt in this position and any criticisms he might have received.”

Miller will speak at 5 p.m. in the Behavioral Sciences Building.