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Posted on March 22, 2017

Voter Friendly Campus logo

California University of Pennsylvania has been named a Voter Friendly Campus, one of only seven Pennsylvania universities to be recognized by the nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Nationwide, just 83 campuses in 23 states received the Voter Friendly Campus designation for planning and implementing practices that encourage students to register and vote.

The mission of the Voter Friendly Campus designation is to strengthen efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process.

Cal U’s voter engagement efforts were evaluated based on a campus plan for engaging students in the 2016 general election, how voter engagement was facilitated on campus, and a final analysis of those efforts.

Why Cal U Is ‘Voter Friendly’

During the 2016 campaign and election seasons, the American Democracy Project at Cal U spearheaded campuswide events designed to:

  • Educate students about the election process.
  • Promote voter registration.
  • Inform students about the candidates and the issues.
  • Encourage students to cast their ballots on Election Day.

In addition to an ongoing voter registration drive, the American Democracy Project held a series of discussions about top campaign issues, hosted CampaignWatch and ElectionWatch events, and hosted an Election Analysis Forum to examine election outcomes. On Election Day, Cal U student government pitched in to organize walks and rides to polling places.

Students Claudia Pehowic and Kirra Lent, who interned at the Republican and Democratic national conventions, shared their experiences with the campus online and through on-campus forums.

Student Mari Boyle represented Pennsylvania and Cal U as a delegate to CollegeDebate16, a national, nonpartisan initiative that engaged young voters in the presidential election process.

Why It Matters

Why is it important for students to vote? Dr. Melanie Blumberg, director of the American Democracy Project at Cal U, says that no matter their political views, students do themselves a disservice if they don’t cast their ballots:

“Officeholders tend to place more weight on opinions of voters than abstainers. If the electoral fortunes of candidates depend on a voting bloc, once in office they are apt to listen and give credence to the group’s concerns. 

“By not participating in politics, students are undermining their interests and passions, whether it be affordable college tuition or environmental protection. 

“In addition, research indicates that if college students participate in politics, they are more apt to remain active in community matters throughout their lives.”  

Behind the Award

The Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN) is a national, nonpartisan election reform organization working to remove barriers to registration and voting for traditionally underrepresented constituencies and improve election administration. FELN’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) works with universities, community colleges, faculty, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting and helps campuses institutionalize reforms that empower students with the information they need to register and vote.

NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Its work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories.