By Nicole Fitzsimmons, News Editor
Manhattan College has recently been recognized by All in Campus Democracy Challenge as one of the most engaged college campuses for student voting.
This recognition comes in addition to three other All in Campus Democracy Challenge badges MC received: a presidential commitment badge, a bronze badge for the 2018 midterm elections and a silver badge for the 2020 presidential election.
In order to get recognition as one of the most engaged college campuses for student voting, one of the most important parts a campus must have is a detailed plan regarding the increase of voter registration and engagement.
“One semester, we asked a lot of professors, ‘Can a student come into your classroom and do a five minute presentation on voting and the election?’ and we did a whole lot of that. Every semester we think of particular things that we think are worth doing so that we take deliberate action to meet our goals,” Margaret Groarke, professor of political science and director of community engaged learning, said.
Jacquie Martin, the coordinator of campus ministry and social action, described that another initiative to increase voter registration is to interact with freshmen about it at orientation.
“Over the summer, we had been like ‘Maybe orientation would be a strategic time to target all the freshmen coming in, who are just becoming eligible to vote and are recently eligible’,” Martin said. “And so we were able this year to work with them. So in the little packet everyone gets at orientation, they have a thing that’s like, ‘Hey, here’s how you vote your vote,’.”
Students during the previous election cycle also participated in debate watch parties and earlier this semester there was a voter engagement event on the quadrangle.
According to the 2020 National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), which all in-campus democracy challenges use to calculate student voter engagement, the rate among all participating institutions was 66 percent, with Manhattan College being 59.6 percent. That is an increase of 18.3 percent from the 2016 presidential cycle.
“So we’re a little bit lower than average, but we’re making great strides. We’re getting closer,” Groarke said.
This report is a good tool for seeing what advancements can be made in engagement.
“That’s another good tool that we can use when we’re like, ;kay, we want to make a plan, ‘Oh, look like business majors, how much are they turning out? Maybe we should really focus on them. Since you know, some other school has a much better turnout.’ So it’s good to have that,” Martin said.
The campus committee for voter engagement is excited about this recognition and ways administrators and the student body might react.
“I think when we’re recognized by some outside group for it, it means that people at the college are more likely to support what we do. Yeah, it’s like look, ‘we got recognition for this,’ so it helps you know, build the momentum on campus,” Groarke said.
Martin encourages students to engage in the vote because it makes your voice heard and might allow you to engage with your interests better.
That’s [casting your vote] sort of like step one, because in our office, we’re thinking a lot about getting people involved in social action. And so, you know, the very kind of base level way to do that is by voting for the things that you’re interested in the people you think align with what you’re interested in. And then from there, our offices take people to do advocacy, or you know, bringing elected officials to campus. We’ve also taken students to go advocate on the Hill for issues that are important to them,” Martin said.
Further, Groarke emphasizes that casting your vote early on might create a lifelong trend.
In upcoming elections, Groarke and Martin are looking towards hiring work study students to engage the campus community and more members to participate in the campus committee.
“I feel like it’s important for students to show up, to actually exercise their right to vote in order for them to see the change that they want in the world. Consider that there’s so many things going on,” senior student worker for CMSA, Chelsey Leveque, said. “There’s a lot of conflicts, a lot of disagreements in terms of the opinions and ideas. For students, in order for them to try and elicit change, I think it’s [casting your vote is] important.”