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 encouraged their students to register and vote in the 2018 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.
ETSU, which first achieved “Voter Friendly Campus” status for the 2017-2018 term, was evaluated based on a campus plan to engage student voters in the fall of 2018, how the institution facilitated voter engagement efforts on campus, and a final analysis of these efforts. The new designation is valid through December 2020.
ETSU’s voter engagement and registration efforts are spearheaded by the ETSU Votes Team, a diverse group of faculty, staff and students. This team works to set strategic voter engagement goals each year, and then partners with campus organizations to host a variety of events, activities and other campaigns to meet those goals.
During the past year, the ETSU Votes Team incorporated voter registration and education into the university’s programming for new and transfer students, including orientation and Preview programs and the ETSU 1020 “Foundations of Student Success” course.
“This was a first for our institution, and it proved to be a huge success,” said Nathan Farnor, assistant for civic engagement in ETSU’s Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement. “We also worked to build excitement and enthusiasm around the 2018 midterm elections through a marketing campaign in partnership with ETSU Athletics. And, we hosted a series of ‘Vote Together’ parties and opportunities to ride to the polls on Election Day.”
In addition, the ETSU Votes Team hosted a variety of events and activities focused on issue and voter education to encourage students to be informed and active citizens. These included debates, film screenings and the Naturalization Ceremony held on the ETSU campus last fall.
“As a university, our mission is to not only allow students the opportunity to earn a degree, but to offer members of our campus community the chance to be active, informed and engaged citizens in our democracy,” Farnor said. “Our designation as a Voter Friendly Campus should not only serve as a celebration of the groundbreaking voter engagement successes ETSU has had over the last few years, but as a reminder of the value these important conversations, debates and dialogues bring to our campus community.”
The institutions designated “Voter Friendly Campuses” represent a wide range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural and urban campuses.
NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession. It provides professional development, advocacy and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries and eight U.S. territories.
The CVP, part of the Fair Elections Legal Network, 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.