MACON — Mercer University is one of 258 colleges and universities in 38 states and the District of Columbia to be named a Voter Friendly Campus for 2023-24. The designation comes from NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project.
The Voter Friendly Campus program is designed to help institutions address the myriad challenges that prevent college students from participating in the political process and foster a culture of democratic engagement on their campuses, including in years without a national election. This designation recognizes college and university campuses that have committed to voter registration, education and turnout as part of their institutional mission.
Campuses were evaluated on their ability to complete a three-step process, which included developing a written plan for how the school would engage student voters in 2022, facilitating voter education and engagement efforts on campus, and writing a final analysis of their efforts. The designation is valid through December 2024.
“This designation is exciting but not surprising to me. Mercer committed to making student voting a priority in 2016 with the creation of SoConVotes, the first-ever college student voter challenge that mirrors athletic competitions,” said Dr. Douglas R. Pearson, vice president and dean of students. “Mercer went on to win that challenge, and the students and staff have only continued to build on that momentum. More importantly, SoCon Votes has been adopted nationally as a model for increasing student voter participation in colleges and universities.”
Last year, Mercer was awarded the MTV “Voting Earlier is Easier” Challenge Grant due to the University’s concentrated involvement in student voter efforts, and Mercer was ranked No. 14 among Washington Monthly’s 2021 America’s Best Colleges for Student Voting based on student voter registration ahead of the 2020 election.
Mercer students have traditionally performed better than peer institutions when it comes to voter engagement because students are already civically engaged through service and volunteerism initiatives.
Another way that Mercer helps with voter engagement is by participating in the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE), which provides insight into how students are performing in each election.
Based on previous NSLVE results, Mercer received the Gold Seal in the 2021 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, which is a bigger network that also houses the SoCon Votes Challenge. Mercer also earned the SoCon Votes Best Action Plan Award in 2021 for the University’s outlook on how it would build on its voter engagement.
“It is an honor to be recognized as a Voter Friendly Campus. Achieving this designation is a testament to the commitment and collective impact of the Mercer Votes Coalition, including our community partners, Democracy Fellows and professional staff members,” said Lauren Shinholster, Mercer’s associate director of engaged learning. “We are proud of our continued growth in voter engagement. For our students, each election is another step towards changing the world.”
About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. With approximately 9,000 students enrolled in 12 schools and colleges, on major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; medical school sites in Macon, Savannah and Columbus; and at regional academic centers in Henry and Douglas counties, Mercer is ranked among the top tier of national research universities by U.S. News & World Report. The Mercer Health Sciences Center includes the University’s School of Medicine and Colleges of Nursing, Health Professions and Pharmacy. Mercer is affiliated with five teaching hospitals – Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center and Piedmont Macon Medical Center in Macon; Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah; and Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital and St. Francis-Emory Healthcare in Columbus. The University also has an educational partnership with Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon, an engineering research center in Warner Robins, and Mercer Medicine clinics in Sumter, Peach, Clay, Putnam and Harris counties. Mercer is one of only 293 institutions nationwide to shelter a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society; one of eight institutions to hold membership in the Georgia Research Alliance; and the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. www.mercer.edu