Shenandoah University has been designated a Voter Friendly Campus through an initiative led by two national nonpartisan organizations:
- Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project (CVP)
- NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
More than 200 campuses in 37 states and the District of Columbia have received the 2021-2022 designation.
According to a Voter Friendly Campus press release, “The mission of the Voter Friendly Campus designation is to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process.” Shenandoah was evaluated based on a campus plan about how it would register, educate, and turn out student voters in 2020, how it facilitated voter engagement efforts on campus, and a final analysis of these efforts — all in the face of the upheaval caused by a global pandemic. The designation is valid through December 2022.
Voter Friendly Campus designees broke down barriers and empowered students with the information and tools needed to participate in the political process, which helped lead to historic youth voter turnout, opening the door to lifelong civic engagement for students, according to communications from the Voter Friendly Campus effort.
Shenandoah’s Center for Civic Engagement applied to be a part of the initiative, which ties in well with the university’s mission, which, in part, is to educate and inspire students to be “ethical, compassionate citizens who are committed to making responsible contributions within a community, nation, and world,” according to Director of Civic Engagement Keith Jones Pomeroy.
This ethos is encouraged and promoted throughout the university, with a push to serve our communities. Part of the purpose of democratic engagement is to build coalitions with various stakeholders. Working with the Voter Friendly Campus campaign allowed us to brainstorm and collaborate with other institutions across the country and share tools and resources to better increase and institutionalize our voter engagement. This was particularly important this year, as there were new challenges to voting due to COVID-19. As states scrambled to figure out how citizens would vote, we needed resources and updated information to share with students. Partnerships like this are incredibly helpful.”
Keith Jones Pomeroy
Pomeroy also noted that the Center for Civic Engagement further modeled collaboration by connecting with:
- Shenandoah’s political science department
- First-Year Seminar
- Mosaic Center for Inclusion and Diversity
- graduate admissions office
- Assistant vice president for opportunity development
- School of Business
- Hornet Athletics
- APO (theatre sorority)
- Residence Life
- Office of Marketing and Communications
- AAUW (American Association for University Women)
“We are hoping that all these efforts will have translated into higher awareness and results around the importance of actively participating in our democracy,” Pomeroy said.
“The institutions designated Voter Friendly Campuses represent a wide range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural, and urban campuses. Notably, the list of designated institutions includes many minority-serving iInstitutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The program is ultimately serving millions of students,” the Voter Friendly Campus press release states.