National Voter Friendly Campus Designation
WSU is one of 83 campuses in 23 states designated as a “Voter-Friendly Campus.” The initiative, led by national nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, held participating institutions accountable for planning and implementing practices that encourage their students to register and vote in the 2016 general election and in the coming years.
The mission of the Voter Friendly Campus designation is to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process. WSU was evaluated based on a campus plan about how the university system would engage student voters in the fall of 2016, how WSU facilitated voter engagement efforts on our campus, and a final analysis of WSU’s efforts. The designation is valid through December 2018.
As part of WSU’s effort to be designated a voter friendly campus, the WSU Center for Civic Engagement promoted a system-wide campaign called Cougs Vote that involved 57 organizations on all six WSU campuses. In total, WSU groups organized 183 events which engaged 11,567 individuals and registered 1,181 new voters. Event highlights included debate watch events, two student debates, creative voter registration events including Donut Forget to Vote and Floats for Votes, and a residence hall-wide voter awareness campaign. In a post-campaign anonymous survey, a WSU student shared that the Cougs Vote campaign influenced them because “It made me realize how much everyone’s vote matters.”
In support of the mission of Washington State University to extend knowledge through engagement, leadership, and service to society, the CCE is strongly committed to the civic purpose of higher education, to preparing students to engage responsibly in our democracy in both election and non-election years.
According to Melanie Brown, Director of the Center for Civic Engagement, “the overwhelmingly positive response to the [Cougs Vote] campaign across the WSU system is indicative of a burgeoning student interest in civic matters as well as our values as a university.” These values, she continued, “underpin a WSU culture that advances the land grant ideals of community engagement and civic responsibility. I am so pleased that our students have been recognized in this way”
The institutions designated Voter Friendly Campuses 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.