Wayne State University has been named one of over 231 campuses in 37 states and the District of Columbia designated as a “Voter Friendly Campus.” The initiative, led by national nonpartisan organizations Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, held participating institutions accountable for planning and implementing practices that encourage their students to register and vote in 2020 elections and in the coming years.
The mission of the Voter Friendly Campus designation is to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process. WSU was evaluated based on the campus’ efforts to register, educate and turnout student voters in 2020. The designation is valid through December 2022.
“Wayne State has made a strong statement about the civic mission of higher education to prepare students to be engaged participants in our democracy,” said Dean of Students David Strauss. “Our students have taken that mission onto themselves and their dedication to civic engagement affirms that they are community-minded leaders with the drive to inspire change and solve local and global challenges.”
As part of WSU’s effort to encourage voter engagement, Election Day was declared a university-wide holiday, and the first-ever on-campus polling location, Detroit Precinct 149, was opened in February in the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne Law to make voting more convenient for Detroiters, including students living on campus. More than 1,000 registered voters were assigned to Precinct 149 in its first election year.
Many aspects of Wayne State’s efforts to encourage voter engagement were led by students. Kamali Clora and Sailor Mayes served as representatives with the national Campus Vote Project to reduce barriers to student voting. In their roles, Clora and Mayes worked around the clock to raise awareness about registration and the electoral process, including nuances caused by local and national pandemic responses, via the “Warriors Vote” campaign.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity during this challenging time to lead students towards a path of lifetime voting,” said Mayes, who serves as Director of Government Affairs and a senator-at-large with Student Senate. “I’m thankful we were able to make our voices heard, in spite of these challenges, to make a difference on our campus and beyond.”
The “Warriors Vote” campaign also included the development and launch of Motivote, a one-stop shop for election-related resources. The platform helped more than 200 students connect with election resources and register to vote.
“We’re proud of the work we’ve accomplished together as a campus to foster a culture that celebrates and encourages voting and civic engagement,” said Clora, who serves Student Senate Director of Student Services. “Every voice matters in a democracy, and the actions we take today will shape the future for generations to come.”
In addition to this recognition, Wayne State University was one of 61 institutions in the nation – and one of only 2 in Michigan – to earn the Campus Democracy Challenge’s platinum seal recognition in 2019 for achieving a student voting rate above 50%.
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 Institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The program is ultimately serving over 3.5 million students.
Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 26,000 students.
NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Our work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories.
Fair Elections Center is a national, nonpartisan voting rights and legal support organization that works to eliminate barriers to voting and improve election administration across the United States. Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project works with universities, community colleges, faculty, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting and helps campuses institutionalize reforms that empower students with the information they need to register and vote.