MOVE Texas, an organization that focuses on registering students to vote, increasing engagement and teaching civic education, has plans to start a student chapter at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
MOVE is an acronym that stands for mobilize, organize, vote and empower.
And that’s what MOVE Regional Coordinator Dylan Villalon wants to accomplish on campus.
“The student chapter ideally would provide voter registration to TAMUSA students year-round as well as provide informational sessions,” Villalon said, who also worked with MOVE at San Antonio College as a campus organizer in 2019.
Villalon, a communications major who transferred here from San Antonio College in 2021, said the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization also teaches people how to be a part of their communities and how to cultivate power within those communities by voting.
“We vote to build power, we build power for the issues we care about,” Villalon said. “By voting for the candidate that has the best plan in relation to the issues we care about individually, we are building power behind the issues that are most important to us.”
The organization has already begun to make progress at A&M-San Antonio. Denique Escobedo, who works as democracy engagement manager for the Mays Center said working alongside MOVE and Villalon has been a pleasure.
“We have registered students to vote, held many events for Election Day and created events dedicated to hearing students’ voices and issues they would like to advocate,” Escobedo said. “I cannot wait to see what MOVE Texas has in store.”
The chapter would also offer opportunities for students to ask questions about the voting and election process as well as be a space for students to advocate.
MOVE is currently recruiting for the A&M-San Antonio chapter but wants to do more than just increase voter registration. Instead, the group wants to create meaningful engagement with students, Villalon said.
“We very much shifted our focus from getting high voter registration numbers, which we know we can get, to creating quality engagement with students,” Villalon said. “MOVE is trying to change the culture around voting.”
Because the organization is nonpartisan, Villalon said they do not care who students vote for but instead care that they vote as it is a way to build power for the issues they care about.
MOVE, which started in 2013, seeks to remove the pressure or fear of voting. The group wants students to feel good about the engagement, Villalon said, and do so by making the voting process more accessible.
“We’re a youth-led organization, so we really try to focus on accessibility and breaking down the language in civic engagement,” Villalon said.
Casting a vote has always been a way for individuals to voice their opinion but MOVE has recognized the opportunity that coming together has for building communities.
“We’ve taken a step back and asked ourselves how are we really impacting the communities that we’re organizing in,” Villalon said.
“One vote alone can’t really change a lot, but a lot of votes coming together time after time consistently that’s how you build change in communities,” Villalon said.