UIC named voter-friendly campus

Voter Friendly Campus logoThe University of Illinois at Chicago has been designated a Voter Friendly Campus by the Fair Elections Legal Network’s Campus Vote Project and NASPA, the organization of student affairs administrators in higher education.

UIC is one of 83 campuses in 23 states to earn the recognition through the two national organizations’ initiative, which recognizes institutions for planning and implementing practices that encourage students to register and vote.

The designation extends through 2018 and aims to bolster efforts to help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process.

Universities were evaluated based on campus plans, facilitation, and results of student voter engagement efforts last fall.

UIC’s plan, which was coordinated by a campus-wide civic engagement committee, focused on three areas:

  • Voter Registration: UIC planned several events and teamed with campus and community partners to support voter registration efforts. Outreach at orientation led to 41 percent of incoming students registering to vote; overall, UIC’s efforts yielded approximately 1,600 newly registered students.
  • Voter Education: Workshops, town halls, lunches and watch-parties for the debates and the election were held across campus. A comprehensive nonpartisan voter guide to candidates at all levels was created by the Office of Student Leadership Development and Volunteer Services.
  • Voter Turnout: Volunteers used Chicago Votes! pledge cards in face-to-face contacts; sent campus-wide electronic messages; and hosted the Rock-the-Vote Bus to encourage turnout. A social media campaign, “My Reason Why,” encouraged students to discuss why they were voting. Students were urged to take advantage of an early-voting location at UIC that led to over 100 people registering and 1,200 people voting.

“Through the process of earning this designation, we have developed a core group of students, faculty, and staff from across campus to promote and advocate for these issues on campus,” said Spencer Long, associate director of Student Leadership Development and Volunteer Services and member of the Civic Engagement Core Committee. “I believe that this shows our students’ and the university’s commitment to being active citizens in our neighborhoods.”

Institutions designated a Voter Friendly Campus 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.

The Fair Elections Legal Network is a national, nonpartisan election reform organization working to remove barriers to registration and voting for traditionally underrepresented constituencies and improve election administration.

NASPA is a 15,000 member association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession.