Seattle University's students will make their voices heard on Nov. 6. Among all institutions in the state of Washington, SU is ranked second on a per capita basis for the number of students that registered as voters for the 2012 election. SU is first among the state's independent schools.
While voter registration is down in Washington-part among college students, as reported in a recent Seattle Times article-the story couldn't be any different at SU. No fewer than 552 undergraduates have registered as first-time voters.
Much of the success owes to a full-throttle get-out-the-vote drive that was led by the Student Government of Seattle University (SGSU) and the Political Science Club in partnership with Washington Bus.
"We piggybacked on campus events that were already planned," explains SGSU President Nicole Gaddie. Organizers chose their locations and times masterfully, for instance, setting up outside the SU Bookstore on the first day of school when students bought their textbooks. (It certainly didn't hurt that their parents were in tow, Gaddie says.)
She says another key factor is the type of student SU enrolls. "I definitely think that the commitment of our students to social justice is a big factor (in the successful voter registration drive). Our students are aware of what's going on our country and they want to directly influence the outcome of the election."
Jake Diaz, vice president for Student Development, agrees. "I believe our students are engaged with local, regional, national and international issues. They are asking this of their education, through their faculty and staff, and this is also evidenced in the value that students place upon the upcoming election. It should be a pride point for us as a university that our students are choosing to engage in this way."
The effort to register new voters was also reinforced by SU President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., who Gaddie says, was the only college or university president in Washington to sign onto the American College and University Presidents Commitment to Civic Engagement.