University of Puget Sound Named National “Voter Friendly” Campus

Submitted by University of Puget Sound

University of Puget Sound is one of 83 American campuses in 23 states that have been designated as a “Voter-Friendly Campus.”

The initiative, led by the national nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project and NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, held participating institutions accountable for planning and implementing practices that encouraged their students to register and vote in the 2016 general election and for setting goals to keep students politically engaged in the coming years.

University of Puget Sound
Photo Courtesy of Ross Mulhausen, University of Puget Sound

The work at Puget Sound was led by the Center for Intercultural and Civic Engagement (CICE). As part of the effort, Puget Sound held debate-watching parties and brown-bag lunches on relevant topics in collaboration with the Department of Politics and Government. Tables were set up where students could register to vote and students from out of state were provided with resources to register and vote in their home states.

In addition Puget Sound created a Voter Engagement Specialist student staff position. The part-time position is solely devoted to voter engagement work and, in 2016, the new staff member contributed greatly to Puget Sound’s preparations for the November election.

One highlight of voter engagement during the year was the College Debate 2016: The Leaders of Today conference at Dominican University of California. About 130 student delegates from around the country came together for a busy weekend to share concerns and ideas around key issues that resonate with younger voters.

Voter Friendly Campus
Rep. Derek Kilmer talks with Megan Schowalter ’17 about her thesis, in Washington D.C., during the Alternative Spring Break visit to Congress by 13 Puget Sound students. Photo courtesy: UPS

In 2017 Puget Sound’s Alternative Spring Break for students was focused on civil rights and political engagement. Thirteen students undertook educational reading, activities and discussions to prepare themselves for a recent March visit to Washington, D.C., where they learned about civil rights and how to engage with legislators.

The submission for the Voter Friendly Campus designation was compiled by Skylar Bihl, assistant director for civic engagement, Julia Lin ’18, the outgoing voter engagement specialist, and her incoming replacement, Micaela Seaver ’20. University of Puget Sound believes strongly in the civic mission of higher education to prepare students to be engaged participants in our democracy.

The Voter Friendly Campus designation, valid through December 2018, was created to bolster college and university efforts to help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process. The designated institutions represent a wide range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural, and urban campuses, with a total enrollment of nearly 1.4 million students.

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