Dalton State Recognized as ‘Voter Friendly Campus’
Dalton State College was recently named a “Voter Friendly Campus” for its civic engagement and learning initiatives.
The designation came through Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and Fair Election Center’s Campus Vote Project, a program sponsored by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. To be considered for the designation campuses must engage their student body and promote voter registration and voting as part of its mission.
The program is to help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process and develop a culture of democratic engagement on campus.
“We started reviewing data and looking at efforts to be voter friendly,” said Heather Williams, assistant director for leadership and civic engagement. “We looked at national trends and realized we had opportunities to do more to encourage civic engagement on campus. Our efforts include expanding Constitution Day to Constitution week, where we host numerous activities geared toward learning more about the democratic process and government. We also expanded our voter registration events and education.”
In the fall, 135 students registered to vote during a campus wide voter registration drive, Williams said.
Additionally, Dalton State hosts Meet the Candidates, which allows voters to meet with those running for office, and hosts retired politicians who take time to explain the legislative process. Cody Oglesby, a junior accounting major who hopes to run for office one day, oversaw many of the events.
“Cody is serving a four-year appointment to the Gordon County Board of Elections and Voter Registration,” Williams said. “He is passionate about getting more people involved in the democratic process and a lot of this recognition is due to his efforts.”
In 2018, Dalton State was recognized for increasing voter participation on campus from 43.8 percent in the 2012 election to 51.8 percent in the 2016 election.
“Institutionalizing voter engagement, registration, and turnout efforts on college campuses is no easy feat for institutions of higher learning; especially in today’s political climate wherein many communities are polarized,” said NASPA President Kevin Kruger. “With the second iteration of the Voter Friendly Campus program, we’ve learned that campuses that have been most successful in fostering a campus climate inclusive of democratic participation do so by intentionally including multiple facets of the institutions’ community in fostering the skills, knowledge, and dispositions supporting students’ civic agency.”