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OHIO designated a Voter Friendly Campus

Published: March 9, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University is one of over 200 campuses in 37 states and the District of Columbia designated today as a “Voter Friendly Campus.”

The initiative, led by national nonpartisan organizations Fair Elections Center’s 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 2020 elections 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. OHIO was evaluated based on a campus plan about how the University would register, educate, and turn out student voters in 2020, facilitate voter engagement efforts on campus, and a final analysis of those efforts – all in the face of the upheaval caused by a global pandemic. The designation is valid through December 2022.

“It’s important for our students to be civically engaged, and that begins with voting,” Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis said. “I’m proud that OHIO has received the Voter Friendly Campus honor, and I am thankful for the students and staff that have made such a difference in getting our students prepared to participate in the electoral process.”

As part of the effort to be designated a voter friendly campus, Ohio University’s Center for Campus and Community Engagement (CCCE) collaborated with units across the institution to embed voter engagement across the University and employed several teams of students working on voter engagement. OHIO integrated voter registration and education into Bobcat Student Orientation, Graduate Student Orientation, and Learning Community lesson plans, hosted outreach events, created a civic engagement portal, and provided voter information and resources via a Civic Engagement website

OHIO students were critical to election engagement success. Campus Election Engagement Project Fellows Reese Campbell and Sarah Donaldson worked to register voters, coordinated livestream events, and completed individual projects to support sustained student voter engagement. A team of nine students launched a social media campaign as part of the Power to the Polls Poll Worker Recruiter Program. Through the Campus Vote Project, Kristin Kelley successfully recruited 111 poll workers across all our campus communities, including OHIO students, high school seniors, and community members. Together with Democracy Fellow Olivia Gemarro, the CCCE developed a long-term strategic plan for civic engagement at OHIO, which includes the goals of embedding the concept of OHIO as a civically engaged institution, emphasizing the connection between civic engagement and Bobcat values, and creating pathways for students to be involved with social and civic action.

Ohio University has made a strong statement about the civic mission of higher education to prepare students to be engaged participants in our democracy and is excited to continue engaging students through 2021, 2022, and beyond. 

“Receiving the Voter Friendly Campus designation is a testament to the contributions of our students to our institution-wide civic engagement strategic plan. By involving key institutional and community stakeholders and all campuses, we put Bobcat values into action,” said Mary Nally, director of Ohio University’s Center for Campus and Community Engagement.

The institutions designated Voter Friendly Campuses represent a wide range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural, and urban campuses.