Brandeis Women's Basketball Gets Out The Vote

Volunteers from the October 1 Voter Registration Drive at Gosman
Volunteers from the October 1 Voter Registration Drive at Gosman

With Election Day coming up tomorrow, the entire Brandeis campus has been mobilized to help in the efforts to get students to vote. The campus-wide #VoteDeis initiative has held events to help students register and request absentee ballots. The effort at Gosman has been bolstered by the Brandeis Women's Basketball team.

Senior Sophie Trachtenberg, a guard from Oklahoma City, has been a key player in the #VoteDeis initiative for the women's basketball team, and for the athletics department as a whole. With intercollegiate competition on the back-burner since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, teams have been looking for ways to leave a legacy. "We want to make this year worthwhile," Trachtenberg said. "That we left our mark on Brandeis and that we took full advantage of our time here."

The hope is that the team and the campus isn't taking a side politically, but demonstrating that there's more than just talk when it comes to making changes. 

Trachtenberg traces her interest in politics back to a middle school history class that used debates to illustrate the political spectrum. Her interest in voting activism dates to a high school history teacher who, she says, "knew everyone's birthdays and knew when they turned 18, so she could deliver us our voter registrations." Trachtenberg wasn't even eligible to vote in the last presidential election, with a birthday that comes just after Election Day, but her teacher was still determined to get her involved, encouraging her to vote in a school board election.

"Change doesn't just start at the top," Trachtenberg said. "You have to really be cognizant of what's going on around you and how you can spark change from both ends. Not just for President, but for State Senate representatives and Sheriff and positions like that.

When it came time to initiate a registration drive in the athletic department, Trachtenberg started with her team. After pestering her teammates to vote in primaries in group chats over the summer, the Judges reconvened on campus in August. Once they were back, the team decided to work on social media videos with each other, a plan that evolved into a Voter Registration Challenge thanks to the help of a handful of coaches and the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). While the VoteDeis group had been holding events all over campus, focusing on National Voter Registration Day on September 22nd, an additional event was held on October 1st down at the Gosman Athletic Center that drew approximately 50 more students.

"It was a great event," said men's soccer coach Gabe Margolis, who is also the staff advisor for SAAC. "After working together on the team challenge, we met with [campus director of community service] Lucas Malo, who put us in touch with VoteDeis, and it all came together really quickly." 

The team's efforts have been widely supported by the department. Recently, Director of Athletics Lauren Haynie announced that no Judges will hold practices on November 3rd. "While many of us will be voting by mail," Haynie said, "this will be an opportunity for those voting in person to engage their rights."

"I've been comforted and pleasantly surprised," Trachtenberg said, "By how fast people are really buying in and having a greater understanding of the fact of how important this is."