Rowan named a ‘Voter Friendly Campus’

Rowan named a ‘Voter Friendly Campus’

Rowan Student Government Association President Arielle Gedeon (right) and Assistant Vice President of Governmental Affairs Kevin McCarthy served on a team for #RowanVotes, a campus-wide initiative designed to increase voter registration, participation and education. The group's efforts have helped Rowan achieve "Voter Friendly Campus" recognition.

In recognition of efforts to help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process, Rowan University has been designated a “Voter Friendly Campus.”

Sponsored by the Fair Election’s Center’s Campus Vote Project and NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the “Voter Friendly Campus” recognition honors institutions that have planned and implemented practices that encouraged students to register and vote in the 2020 elections and in years to come.

The mission of the “Voter Friendly Campus” designation is to bolster efforts to help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process.

Established last year, #RowanVotes is a campus-wide initiative designed to increase voter registration, participation and education. Last fall, the group conducted a census of 8,600 Rowan undergraduate students and reached out to more than 600 students who were unregistered voters.

Among a host of initiatives, #RowanVotes worked alongside the University’s Student Government Association to hold in-person and on-campus voter registration events, including National Voter Registration Day last September; launch a publicity campaign on campus and on social media encouraging voting; coordinate with a host of campus offices to sponsor programming focusing on the presidential election; develop a #RowanVotes web site with access to voter registration forms; and initiate a University-wide education campaign about voting by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rowan was evaluated for the “Voter Friendly Campus” designation based on a campus plan about how #RowanVotes would register, educate, and turn out student voters in 2020, how it facilitated voter engagement efforts on our campus, and a final analysis of all efforts—all in the face of the upheaval caused by a global pandemic.

Part of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, #RowanVotes was led by Kathy Javian, professor of political science, and Ben Dworkin, founding director of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship (RIPPAC).

The core planning team included Drew Tinnin, associate vice president for student life; Joe Lizza, director of the Chamberlain Student Center and Campus Activities; SGA officers Arielle Gedeon (president); Kevin McCarthy (assistant vice president of governmental affairs); and Jason Brooks (assistant vice president of student affairs).

Senior biomedical engineering major Katie Driscoll, senior psychology major Lex Thompson, and junior history major Ryn Seu were the student interns for #RowanVotes. One of their many duties included serving on a panel to educate students in American government classes about specific issues related to the 2020 election, including student rights, healthcare and the environment.

Altogether, 231 campuses in 37 states, plus the District of Columbia, earned the “Voter Friendly Campus” designation.

NAPSA is the leading association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession.

Fair Elections Center is a national, non-partisan voting rights and legal support organization that works to eliminate barriers to voting and improve election administration across the United States.

The ‘Voter Friendly Campus’ recognition is the second honor for #RowanVotes. A video created by SGA encouraging students to register and vote was a winner in the social media/video category of the New Jersey Ballot Bowl. Led by New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way and the Department of State, the Ballot Bowl is a statewide non-partisan voter registration competition to encourage and promote civic engagement.

Camryn Hadley, assistant vice president of public relations and special events for SGA, developed the video.