OU recognized as a ‘Voter Friendly Campus’ for back-to-back election cycle

Oakland+University+student+turning+in+an+absentee+ballot+in+person+before+the+election.+Oakland+University+was+recognized+as+a+voter-friendly+campus.+

Emily Morris

Oakland University student turning in an absentee ballot in person before the election. Oakland University was recognized as a voter-friendly campus.

Rachel Yim, Staff Reporter

For a second straight election cycle, Oakland University has been recognized as a “Voter Friendly Campus” by the Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education).

Initiated through the partnership of Campus Vote Project and NASPA in 2016, the Voter Friendly Campus designation program strives to help institutions develop plans and strategies to coordinate its community members in civic and electoral engagement.

“We’ve earned this distinction for back-to-back election cycles which speaks to OU’s commitment and dedication to civic and democratic engagement efforts,” David Dulio, associate professor of the department of political science and director of the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), said. “We can always do better.”

According to Johnson, the voter turnout at OU is expected to be higher than in previous elections as it has become easier for students to vote in Michigan than in the past. Students could utilize online voter registration, absentee voting and early voting.

OU’s new initiatives for voter registration include the collaboration of Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC) and CCE to widely spread the voter registration information to its students. Their initiatives include creating an instructional video about registration and absentee ballots and hosting a variety of events that can further educate the students.

As one of its new initiatives, OUSC has promoted and informed the students about how each voting form works to make the voting process easier and less complex.

“We had several flyers posted throughout campus that encouraged students to register to vote and provided information on the various forms of voting,” Johnson said. “Additionally, we ran a social media campaign that provided information on the 2020 elections leading up to November third.”

The collaboration between OUSC and CCE played an important role in making OU voter friendly. By hosting several events, they were able to engage students in voting while educating them on various topics in politics.

“I am a big proponent of institutionalizing voter engagement, so the creation of the Free Stamp Friday program was an important way to eliminate any monetary barrier that existed in having to pay for postage for sending in an absentee ballot,” Johnson said. “[Additionally,] I worked alongside Professor Dulio to have a link to register to vote in Michigan on MySAIL for all students to use.”

Making up over 10 percent of the American population, young voters have the power to sway elections. Engaging in the democratic processes is one way to create a change that can improve the lives of many.

“OU must have an election day policy where all classes are canceled on the days of general elections,” Johnson said. “If OU wants to be a school that encourages participation in democracy and advocating for oneself at the ballot box, this is a logical next step we must take and one I have been working on diligently throughout my time as OUSC Director of Civic Affairs.

The elected officials are chosen to represent the people who vote for them. Young voters are part of the future and one way to represent them is by voting.

For more information about more programs and additional resources about Voter Friendly Campus designation, visit  voterfriendlycampus.org.