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CSU, Chico Receives Voter Friendly Campus Designation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jess Candela, former coordinator of voter registration and education with the Office of Civic Engagement, helped mobilize efforts to educate University students about voting and the election process from November 2015 to December 2016. She said she envisioned reaching “a larger and more diverse segment of the student and community population and to get them involved in the democratic process. I believe we did that.”
The Voter Friendly Campus designation program started in 2016, through a partnership with the Campus Vote Project and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). The designation aims to help campus administrators develop strategies to engage students, set clear goals and create a path in advance of upcoming elections.
CSU, Chico is in rare company with the Voter Friendly Campus designation. It is just one of four California institutions to receive the honor, joining Chapman University, De Anza College and Mount St. Mary’s University.
The University is also the first CSU—and the only public, four-year institution—to receive the designation, an honor that thrills CSU, Chico President Gayle E. Hutchinson. “Our core mission is to guide our students in learning and provide support for their success,” she said. “This designation illustrates progress in our efforts to encourage civic engagement and respectful interaction between all perspectives and people.”
Multiple campus groups collaborated in efforts to get the Voter Friendly Campus designation. For example, the First-Year Experience program helped with the Chico Great Debate and the CSU, Chico Town Hall Meeting prior to Election Day, giving students the opportunity to learn about local and national candidates and issues as well as engage in nonpartisan dialogue.
“No one can do this work alone, but together we can make a big impact,” Candela said.
With the Voter Friendly Campus designation, Candela aimed to create a campus culture around voting and to identify how to help students get to the voting booth on Election Day.
Another goal, she said, was to demystify what it’s like to enter a polling booth to vote. The Office of Civic Engagement provided a mock polling booth to help educate new voters at a Voter Education Forum in May 2016.
“Some of our students are 18 years old and they’ve never been inside a voting booth,” said Candela. “We had a booth so students could go in and see what the polling place looks like and to get that demystified.”
Moving forward, Candela hopes that the designation further institutionalizes that voting is important, especially for young people.
“Young people are not getting out to the polls very effectively or efficiently. So it’s really important to get that message out that your voice matters,” Candela said. “Hopefully, this Voter Friendly Campus designation, and the collaborations we created, will continue through the midterm elections in 2018 and the general election in 2020 and really get more students to vote.”