Gustavus Recognized as Voter Friendly CampusGustavus is one of 235 institutions in the nation—and the only liberal arts college in Minnesota—to earn the designation.
Posted on March 15th, 2021 by

Gustavus Adolphus College has been designated as 2021-2022 Voter Friendly Campus by national nonpartisan organizations Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Gustavus is the only liberal arts college in Minnesota and one of only 235 colleges and universities in the country to earn the recognition.

The program requires college and university campuses to engage their campus communities and promote voter registration and voting as part of their institutional mission. The goal of the Voter Friendly Campus designation program is to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process and develop a culture of democratic engagement on campus.

“I was so delighted to receive notification that Gustavus has been named a Voter Friendly Campus. Voter education has been an area of focus for Student Life and selection for this distinction highlights the value of that work, ” Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students JoNes VanHecke said. “Like so many of the College’s most successful projects, the planning process brought together talented students, faculty, and staff to work on engaging our entire community in understanding the important civic responsibilities of registering to vote and voting in elections. I’m grateful to the team that lead this past fall’s effort.”

Gustavus has a rich history of civic engagement among the student body and is regularly recognized as one of the top-performing liberal arts colleges in the state in voter turnout. In 2016, the College was recognized as the inaugural Minnesota College Ballot Bowl champion by Secretary of State Steve Simon.

Still, the COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges when the Gustavus Voter Engagement Team started planning for the 2020 election. To make sure Gusties had up-to-date information, the team worked with Center for Community Engagement Director Amy Pehrson to revamp the Gustavus Voter Engagement website, provided additional information about where students were eligible to vote, sent reminders to students using various digital platforms, and ran COVID-safe shuttles to the polls on Election Day.

“I joined the Voter Engagement Team because I believe civic engagement is a core element of a liberal arts education, and being designated as a Voter Friendly Campus confirms what I saw during that experience,” Gustavus junior and co-president elect of the Gustavus Student Senate Ben Menke said. “This recognition is absolutely a sign that we are moving in the right direction, but we still have much more work to do. My goal is that we can use this designation as a way to further embed civic engagement into campus life.”

The mission of the Voter Friendly Campus designation is to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process. Gustavus and other campuses were evaluated based on a campus plan about how they register, educate, and turnout student voters in 2020, how they facilitated voter engagement efforts on campus, and a final analysis of  efforts—all in the face of the upheaval caused by a global pandemic. The designation is valid through December 2022.

NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Our work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories.

Fair Elections Center is a national, nonpartisan voting rights and legal support organization that works to eliminate barriers to voting and improve election administration across the United States. Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project works with universities, community colleges, faculty, students and election officials to reduce barriers to student voting and helps campuses institutionalize reforms that empower students with the information they need to register and vote.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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