The University of Miami has been named one of 83 campuses in 23 states designated a “Voter-Friendly Campus.” Led by national nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the Voter-Friendly Campus program is designed to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process.
“We are excited that the University of Miami has received this designation and is a recognized leader in voter engagement and civic participation,” said Andrew Wiemer, director of UM’s Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development. “This is a testament to the work being done throughout the past few years within the Division of Student Affairs, the Butler Center, and especially the student team within our Get Out The Vote organization.”
The University’s designation, valid through December 2018, recognizes such achievements as Get Out the Vote’s (GOTV) registration of 2,500 students, faculty, and staff to vote during the election cycle; the collection of 1,200 student written pledges to vote; and an 82 percent voter turnout at the campus polling site, the Watsco Center, which ranked 12th out of 784 precincts in Miami-Dade County for voter turnout.
Additionally, 1,500 students, faculty, and staff attended an Election Day watch party at the Rathskeller with participation from University President Julio Frenk and Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia A. Whitely. The University’s Department of Political Science hosted another on-campus watch party for nearly 300 students involved in the Election 2016 political science course.
“It is truly an honor that Get Out The Vote’s work is being recognized,” said Monica Bustinza, president of GOTV at UM. “We are a passionate group of individuals who understand the power of an educated vote and hope to inspire as many students to become active citizens at all levels of government.”
That passion is also what brought the Elect Her political workshop to campus. Developed by the American Association of University Women and the Washington-based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization Running Start, Elect Her teaches students why more women are needed in student government and provides students of all genders with the skills to run successful student body campaigns.
After learning that about 80 percent of Congressional seats are held by men, UM sophomore political science major Angelica Duque assembled a team of students and a faculty advisor, political science associate professor Louise Davidson-Schmich, to apply to host an Elect Her workshop.
More than 40 students attended the workshop on April 1 at the Watsco Center, sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the Department of Political Science, and GOTV. Participants assessed their own leadership abilities, analyzed how they could draw upon their personal networks in a campaign, and composed an “elevator speech” to use in a campaign.
Miami women who have run for elective office—including Florida State Representative Daisy Baez, Miami School Board member and mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado, and Florida State Representative candidate Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich—spoke candidly to the students about their political and personal experiences. Members of UM Student Government also gave pointers to their peers.