Two University of Wisconsin-Superior students participated in a project with Campus Compact for Wisconsin and Campus Election Engagement Project, a national, nonpartisan organization to increase student voter engagement at college campuses across the state.
"This was an excellent experience to teach our students about (how) the political system works and how they can play a constructive role in promoting political participation," said Khalil (Haji) Dokhanchi, professor of political science at UWS. "This is an excellent example of how little financial resources can be used to promote great change in our students and our community."
The campus election project hired 25 student fellows at 14 schools in Wisconsin, including public, private and technical campuses. The fellows were tasked with building excitement and increasing voter engagement among their peers leading up to the 2018 midterm election.
"I think I actually made a difference in the student voting numbers for this midterm election," said Sydney Mastey, a CEEP fellow majoring in legal studies at UWS. "I contacted students and gave them information that I don't believe they would have received otherwise."
The fellows were asked to complete a total of six events, two in each of the following categories: voter registration, voter education, and get out the vote. Campus Election Engagement Project provided fellows with resources including nonpartisan candidate guides for gubernatorial and Senate races in Wisconsin to aid in their work.
"I really enjoyed being a CEEP fellow," said Matthew McCoshen, a double-major in history and political science at UWS. "It made me realize how effective a person can be working in the private sector. This opportunity helped me narrow my career outlook and goals to better fit my professional goals."
Campus Compact for Wisconsin provided additional support to the fellows, including in-person campus visits from director Trina Van Schyndel, and helped promote the opportunity to schools, and gave CEEP access to its vast network to help find on-campus advisers for the fellows.
For students like McCoshen, who is set to graduate this spring, the experience will prove invaluable in the future.
"This involvement will definitely help me," he said. "I received a letter of recommendation from CEEP and have used that to get into graduate school. Next fall, I will be attending the University of Manitoba and CEEP helped make this a reality."
Moving forward, CEEP is piloting a new fellowship where fellows will be working on projects that include integrating voter registration into new student orientation and first-year experience courses, as well as creating nonpartisan student organizations to lobby for institutional change.
"CEEP has begun piloting a year-round fellowship program with an increased focus on institutionalizing engagement programs, in addition to its focus on immediate impact," said Courtney Cochran, national fellowship director. "The fellows have described this experience as an effective way to leave their mark on their campuses."
According to Cochran, CEEP is looking to expand this pilot program focused on institutionalization and hopes to have a total of 300 fellows nationally in 2020.