Saginaw Valley State University earned a spot on Washington Monthly’s 2022 Best Colleges for Student Voting Honor Roll with a student voter registration rate upwards of 90% in 2020.
SVSU ranked 38th out of 185 institutions on the list, placing it above schools such as Wayne State University and the University of Michigan.
Saginaw Valley’s civic engagement is bolstered by efforts from the Cardinals Vote program, which falls under the Center for Community Engagement and Experiential Learning.
Cardinals Vote held several events throughout the semester preparing students for voting season. Political science major Nikolas Baker, coordinator for Cardinals Vote, gave his opinions on student voting:
“The decisions made in government affect everyone, but especially students because they will live with the decisions for far longer than older generations,” Baker said. “That said, voting is the way that people can have a say in what the government does. One thing I would like to add is that politics do not end when the election does. Now is when the decision-making begins, and we should all stay involved through both staying up to date with what the government is doing and through taking direct action to encourage your legislators to do what you feel is right.”
Also involved in Cardinals Vote is Dahlia Terry, a second-year political science major who assisted with event programming this voting season. Terry spoke about her excitement for SVSU’s success and her hopes for the future:
“This is amazing, and I hope that we can continue to grow and get that percentage much higher.” Terry said, “There was still room to grow coming into this election cycle, and we were able to help a lot of individuals, especially [first year students], become registered.”
Terry also spoke about her interest in civics, and the importance of students’ civic engagement:
“Civic engagement has really become an interest of mine in recent years especially considering the low civic participation we have in the United States right now,” she said. “I really believe that if we, as students, want to start seeing changes within our government, we have to get out and exercise [our] right to vote.”
Terry continued, explaining how student voting impacts politics, and how that led her to her current position:
“Right now, when politicians and candidates run for office, they aren’t worried about the younger generations because we don’t vote,” Terry said. “That needs to change, so I decided to take a fellowship this semester with the Civic Influencers to encourage as many individuals as possible to
register and vote”
Baker also expressed his personal connection to student voting, and the effects he hopes to have at SVSU:
“While I was and still am more affiliated with partisan politics, I wanted to be in a role where I could help students understand the importance of being politically engaged, without it feeling like I was pushing them to one side,” he said. “The main impact I would want to have on students is twofold: know why they should vote and why they are voting the way that they are. In short, promote frequent and informed voters.”
Riley Hupfer, Director of the Center for Community Engagement & Experiential Learning, shared his feelings over SVSU’s culture, success, and future:
“I think it is very encouraging to see voter turnout among students on the rise,” he said. “Voting is a right and we should all acknowledge its importance in impact on our communities and across the country. Regardless of who one votes for, I think it shows a unified agreement across campus on the value of voting and active citizenship. Students should feel empowered to exercise their right and understand the impact that elections can have on their community.”
Hupfer shared closing thoughts on the subject:
“Across campus you can find viewpoints from a wide variety of political affiliations, and we should be encouraged to seek discussion and understanding,” he said. “Additionally, I would love for Cardinals Vote to partner with organizations across campus and in our community to see increased voter turnout rates during both midterm and presidential election years.”