WEST CHESTER, PA — More gold for the Golden Rams! Students at West Chester University have again exceeded the national average, this time, by heading to the polls and earning a Gold Seal for their voter participation in midterm elections.
A national study reported 79% of WCU’s eligible student voters had registered to vote, and of those eligible, 56% voted in the 2018 midterm elections, showing a nearly 30% increase since the 2014 midterms. WCU students’ voting rate of 43.8% is 4.7 percentage points above the national rate of 39.1%. The national nonpartisan initiative ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge awards Gold Seals to institutions for achieving a student voting rate between 40% and 49%.
Data was gathered by the non-partisan National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), an initiative of Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education.
“West Chester University is thrilled that our level of student voter engagement is above the national average,” said Judy Kawamoto, WCU Assistant Vice President for Student Development. “We strive to create a culture of civic engagement and active citizenship on our campus, and this recognition is a reflection of the hard work by our Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs staff.”
The WCU initiative is an interdisciplinary effort involving not only the Office of Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs (OSLVP), but also students, faculty, and administrators from a wide array of academic departments; offices within the Student Affairs Division; student organizations; athletics; and the community organizations Your Vote Is Your Voice and the League of Women Voters. In addition, three students coordinated various registration and education programs and earned a stipend as 2018 Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) fellows: Hanna Donohue, Madison Ogborn, and Kathleen Weber. A paid position as WCU’s institutional fellow for the Campus Election Engagement Project is available to one student for the spring 2020 semester.
The team wrote in their report, “Through word of mouth, the committee received email from more students, faculty, and staff wanting to get involved or volunteer. This engagement project has helped in making the campus much more involved with voting and voter engagement. It has provided the campus with a new-found excitement for this type of civic duty.”
A coalition of faculty and staff remains in place, committed to continuing the work. For information or to participate, contact Shannon Gillespie, OSLVP Interim Assistant Director.
Since NSLVE’s launch in 2013, more than 1,000 colleges and universities have signed up to receive their voting rates for the 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 federal elections. And more than 560 campuses enrolling more than 6.7 million students have joined the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge since its launch in summer 2016.
Source: Earth and Space Sciences Department, West Chester University
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