SVSU was one of 123 campuses in 31 states to earn the Voter Friendly designation through a 2018 program intended to get students registered to vote.
The campus got involved with Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education (NASPA) and Fair Election Center’s Campus Vote Project to develop, implement and report results for engagement programs that encouraged students to register and vote.
“Our campus was evaluated on a three-step process – writing a campus plan to detail how we would engage students in Fall 2018, facilitating voter engagement efforts on campus and then writing a final analysis of our efforts,” said Riley Hupfer, the assistant director for the Center of Community Engagement.
Hupfer added that the designation involved the university engaging with resources specific to voter registration, education and ultimately turning out to the polls.
“This designation really belongs to the students, for their passion and involvement in the 2018 midterm election,” he said.
Democracy Fellow Joshua Cianek suggested students’ voices are critical to the country’s political climate.
“SVSU’s unique position in the academic world and the broader community enables it to serve as the perfect mediator to advocate for political discourse and promote social change,” Cianek said.
Hupfer said that while this designation is new to SVSU, the university also participates in the American Democracy Project’s ALL IN Challenge.
“(This) isn’t necessarily a higher designation,” Hupfer said. “However, it does involve submitting a campus plan, and it recognizes campuses for offering resources and achieving improved voter turnout rates.”
The university will not have access to the NSLVE (National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement) data until June, at which point officials can see how SVSU compares to its peer institutions.
“This designation is very exciting,” Hupfer said. “The Cardinals Vote team worked very hard this past fall and had the chance to talk with hundreds of students. Their passion toward voting has me excited for upcoming elections and is reflected in the incredible voter turnout for 2018.”
Cianek had similar thoughts about the designation.
“(It’s) a monumental step for SVSU, but also, more importantly, for the student population,” he said.
The Cardinal Vote team’s efforts have led to more students understanding how to be politically active, Cianek said.
“Not only are students much more informed with how to go about participating in the electoral process during their academic career here, they’re better equipped for civic engagement later in life,” he said.