Illinois schools were very much involved and engaged this Spring semester around the upcoming elections. The Higher Education Civic Engagement Collaborative sponsored a conference in April entitled, "A Chicago-area Conference on Political Engagement in Higher Education." Schools from across the Chicagoland area came to learn and share about their current projects and efforts. It allowed participants the opportunity to better explore the roles and responsibilities of higher education when it comes to preparing students to be active, educated and engaged political participants. During the CEEP presentation, I encouraged participants to discuss their experiences both good and bad. There were over 15 schools represented in the CEEP presentation and everyone had a story.
- Loyola University is going to try and begin department voting competitions this Fall semester. Their plan is to see what department can get the most students to vote on Election Day in November.
- Adler University recently had an art exhibit that explored the history of voting. At the end of the exhibit, there was tables’ set-up where students could register to vote.
- National-Louis University, primarily an education schools, held a forum this Spring where they brought in speakers to discuss the impact of state and National budgets on education.
University of Illinois-Chicago hosts a National Student Issues Convention every year in the Fall. Students gather to hear from local candidates and incumbents to discuss and involve themselves in the most political and social issues impacting their lives. Representatives from UIC asked CEEP to help coordinate efforts to invite other schools to join them in this convention. On calls and in meetings that CEEP and Illinois Campus Compact hosts, faculty and staff are excited to share their ideas and want to learn from their peers. CEEP has always stressed that electoral engagement is ongoing. Fortunately, schools in Illinois understand that while efforts and excitement always increase around Presidential elections, keeping students informed and involved is the key for success. This summer, several schools have planned and will have voter registration tables and information available during summer orientations. And judging from the various forums, conferences and meetings that staff and faculty have organized for the fall, Illinois schools will have a strong turnout come November. Staff and faculty are excited for the election, not panicked. Plans and projects are in place and their hard work will pay off when students in Illinois become lifelong participants of the electoral system. Ultimately, schools understand that their efforts are to teach our students responsible citizenship in effective and meaningful ways.
For more information on Illinois or questions on what you’ve read contact Amy Ludwig, Illinois Campus Compact at firstname.lastname@example.org.