UIC designated a voter-friendly campus
The University of Illinois at Chicago has again been named a Voter Friendly Campus by NASPA, the national organization of student affairs administrators in higher education, and the Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project.
UIC is one of only two Illinois institutions to earn the designation, which was given to 123 campuses in 31 states for making student engagement programs that encourage students to register and vote a key part of their institutional mission. The latest honor, which is valid through December 2020, follows UIC’s distinction as part of the program’s inaugural cohort in 2017.
Campuses seeking the designation were evaluated based on campus plans, facilitation, and analysis of student voter engagement efforts in fall 2018.
“We are extremely proud of this achievement in being renamed a Voter Friendly Campus for 2019 and 2020,” said Spencer Long, UIC director of student leadership and civic engagement. “As the only public university in the state of Illinois to receive this designation, UIC continues to show its commitment to developing lifelong active leaders within their community.”
A coalition of campus units organized UIC’s plan, which aimed to boost voters’ registration, education and turnout last fall.
UIC hosted various voter registration activities in partnership with campus and community partners, such as its annual Constitution Day and National Voter Registration Day programs. Voter registration continues to be an area of focus during UIC’s new student orientation program and was enhanced through a new partnership with the online service TurboVote. The efforts led to almost 3,000 new registrants.
In the area of voter education, UIC introduced its Ignite the Conversation event series, hosted ballot parties and student-focused discussions about top issues of concern as well as hosting an Illinois governor candidates forum. A nonpartisan voter guide was created by the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement.
Campus communications, social media promotions, and a pledge-to-vote campaign were among the efforts to build interest and increase voter participation. Chicago residents within the campus community were encouraged to use the convenient early voting location at UIC.
Institutions that pursued the Voter Friendly Campus commendation represent a range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural and urban campuses, with a total enrollment of nearly 2 million students.
“Institutionalizing voter engagement, registration, and turnout efforts on college campuses is no easy feat for institutions of higher learning; especially in today’s political climate wherein many communities are polarized.” said Kevin Kruger, NASPA president. “With the second iteration of the Voter Friendly Campus program, we’ve learned that campuses that have been most successful in fostering a campus climate inclusive of democratic participation do so by intentionally including multiple facets of the institutions’ community in fostering the skills, knowledge, and dispositions supporting students’ civic agency.”
NASPA is a 15,000 member association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession.
The Fair Elections Center is a national, nonpartisan voting rights and election reform organization which works to remove barriers to registration and voting for traditionally underrepresented constituencies.