Miami University has again earned a Voter Friendly Campus designation from NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project.
Miami was one of 258 institutions to earn the 2023-2024 designation, which recognizes college and university campuses committed to voter registration, education, and turnout as part of their mission.
The designation is valid through 2024.
“The biggest thing is buy-in,” said Reena Murphy, graduate assistant for the Wilks Institute for Leadership and Service. “It’s great for Miami to be honored and recognized for the work our students are doing. It’s definitely a sense of pride to see Miami is a Voter Friendly Campus. It’s validating that our work is impactful and makes a difference.”
Murphy praised Miami students Valeri Hernandez Godinez (Campus Vote Project Democracy Fellow), Annabel DeChant (Campus Vote Project Democracy Fellow), Mollie Duffy (Civic Influencer), and Grace Kelley (Andrew Goodman Foundation Ambassador) for their work, as well as the partnership of Cameron Tiefenthaler, secretary of governmental relations for Associated Student Government.
Venus Harvey and Maggie Sampson are the current Andrew Goodman Foundation Ambassadors.
“Our voices are our biggest strength to protect our rights, and we exercise them through voting,” Hernandez Godinez said. “Through my work I get to be part of something bigger than myself, I get to be a part of a bigger voice than my own. Every voice matters, and it is important to make sure that every voice is being heard.”
Institutions were evaluated on a three-step process, which included developing a written plan for how the school would engage student voters in 2022, facilitating voter education and engagement efforts on campus, and writing a final analysis.
Miami’s highlights included voter registration, coalition building, institutional ways to promote civic engagement, and civic education. ASPIRE, Menard Family Center for Democracy, Armstrong Student Center, Student Life Communication, the Department of Political Science, and Associated Student Government were among the partners in the Civic Engagement Coalition.
“I am excited by Miami’s investment in civic engagement and am continually impressed by the changes we make on campus,” Tiefenthaler said.
The coalition reviewed voting data, focused on engaging first-year students, and increased outreach to specific communities like academic areas. A Civic Engagement Month was also organized to promote education and enthusiasm alongside organizations that included Multifaith Engagement for Transformative Action (META), the Interfaith Center, and Zero Waste Oxford.
According to the Campus Vote Project, youth turnout in 2022 was the second highest for any midterm election in the last 30 years. Campuses participating in voter engagement programs are credited as one of the reasons for that high turnout.
“Getting designated as a Voter Friendly Campus is really exciting because it’s reflective of the hard work and dedication of many different people who contribute to the efforts of promoting civic engagement and voting and the impacts we’ve been able to make,” DeChant said.
Added Duffy: “After serving as a poll worker at 18, I realized that a participatory democracy doesn't function as intended unless there are volunteers and employees willing to support current and future voters."
Future plans include voter registration drives, informational events, and education on how the new voter ID law will affect students.
Included in the upcoming events is Democracy Day on April 14. There will be a community leaders lunch and learn from 11:40 a.m.-1 p.m. in Armstrong Student Center Room 1086, as well as a crash course on new Ohio voting laws from 1:15-2:35 p.m. in Harrison Hall Room 204 with the League of Women Voters, the Board of Elections, and Oxford City Council member Amber Franklin. Registration is required for both.
“Democracy takes all of us,” Murphy said. “Voting is one tool in our democracy toolbox. It’s arguably the most important tool we have, but other tools like calling representatives, volunteering, and more are also important. It’s exciting to see our students acknowledge that. They see the impact their vote has and take that very seriously.”