WashU named a ‘Voter-Friendly Campus’

Students Jason Li (left), Brendan Yang and Grace Lai attended Party at the Polls, hosted by the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, Nov. 8. Some 950 votes were cast during the midterm elections at the Athletic Complex. (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University)

Washington University in St. Louis has once again been recognized as a “Voter Friendly Campus” by the Campus Vote Project and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). The nation’s 258 Voter-Friendly Campuses boast comprehensive voter engagement, education and turnout plans. 

At Washington University, the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement last year connected students to voting resources, sponsored voter education forums, established a network of campus Voter Engagement Hubs, launched the inaugural Canvas the Campus push and hosted the fall 2022 campus polling place and Election Day events. The Gephardt Institute also led efforts to explain significant changes to Missouri voting laws. 

“Voting is a vital part of actively engaging in our democracy, and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure that our students are informed, prepared and engaged in every electoral process,” said Stephanie Kurtzman, the Peter G. Sortino Executive Director of the Gephardt Institute. “That work was especially important during this past year of change. But thanks to the enthusiasm, creativity and strategic approaches of our student leaders with WashU Votes and Grad Students Vote, members of the Washington University community were able to make their voice heard.” 

Ongoing voter engagement efforts include Engage Democracy workshops, the Civic Café discussion series, Turnout Tuesdays, WashU Votes Wednesdays and “The American Democracy Lab” and “This Civic Moment” podcasts. 

In advance of the Tuesday, April 4, election, the Gephardt Institute will host “Breaking Down the Municipal Elections: A Monday Nite Live & Graduate Impact Forum Event” April 3 with Kelly McGowan of Transform 314 and Shavanna Spratt of “Da Hood Talks” podcast. “Monday Night Live” is a YouTube series focused on St. Louis politics.

According to Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, a record-breaking 71% of eligible Washington University students voted in the 2020 presidential election. Kurtzman hopes that voting habits developed on campus will continue long past graduation.

“Our goal is not just voter participation at WashU — it’s voter participation for life,” Kurtzman said. “I’m grateful to the vast network of partners and supporters who help the Gephardt Institute foster a vibrant culture of civic engagement throughout the university that fuels this lifelong habit of voting and civic participation.”