November 1, 2019

Student voting, civic engagement continue to increase at Wayne State

As Tuesday, Nov. 5, approaches, many Warriors will likely make their way to the polls. A recent study found that Wayne State University students have a higher than average voting rate, and there has been a recent surge in civic engagement activities on campus as well.

Student voting on Wayne State’s campus was up in last year’s midterm election, increasing to 53% in 2018 from 27% in 2014. The national average institutional voting rate was 39%, up from 19% in 2014, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE).

WSU’s voting rates were up across all available data sets, including age, gender, class standing and field of study. The full report is available online.

“We see an increase in voting because we have civic-minded students who care about their communities,” said David Strauss, Dean of Students. “We’re proud of their engagement — they really represent WSU’s mission of positively impacting local and global communities.”

The NSLVE, which is conducted annually by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University, analyzes the voting records of more than 10 million students at over 1,000 colleges and universities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The reported increase is the latest in a series of civic engagement achievements on campus, including a surge of interest among WSU’s Student Senate. The most recent Student Senate election drew record numbers of Warriors participating in student government, whether as candidates or voters.

“Engagement outside of the classroom has a direct relation to engagement within the classroom,” Strauss said. “Our students are the leaders of tomorrow.”

Earlier this year, Wayne State was designated a “Voter Friendly Campus” through a program sponsored by NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) and the Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project. WSU was one of 123 colleges across 31 states to earn this designation for promoting voter registration and engaging the student body as part of its institutional mission.

Wayne State’s student dedication to civic engagement doesn’t end at registering to vote. In collaboration with Campus Vote Project, two student fellows are working to raise awareness on where and how to vote, as well as to educate students on the electoral process prior to the 2020 election.

Strauss also credited the increase in student civic engagement to leadership within the student body, including Student Senate President Stuart Baum. Baum, who is a senior majoring in public affairs, was named a 2019-20 Newman Civic Fellow and has been appointed to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force.

"With the issues students care the most about all over the headlines, it is now more important than ever for students to get engaged and use their voice.  I am inspired by the fact that the numbers reflect that students are heeding that call and getting more civically involved," Baum said. "We are trying to do our part to lift up the voice of students, and provide them with the space to get involved on campus. I really appreciate that our university has recognized the need to help students become more civically engaged by creating pipelines and support structures for them to do so on campus, both in their courses and outside of the classroom." 

View additional voting information from the Student Senate at studentsenate.wayne.edu/warriorsvote