This summer and fall CVP is writing profiles of colleges and universities and their efforts to educate students about voter registration, casting a ballot and developing democratic engagement. These campuses are a part of the Voter Friendly Campus designation project offered by CVP and NASPA.
By Lauren Anderson, CVP Intern
The representative I interviewed from Miami-Dade College (MDC) was passionate about civic and democratic engagement work. MDC’s actions reflect the decades it has worked toward developing an engaged student body. From preparing students for elections to mobilizing them to improve their communities, MDC knows what to do to effectively target its students.
For some colleges, catering events to such a diverse student population would be difficult, but MDC successfully mobilizes all groups of students who attend the school. The institution has a large international population and a large population of students in the process of achieving citizenship. MDC partnered with the New American’s Campaign and other nonprofits to sponsor events that provided information to students about the next steps to obtaining citizenship so that they can register and vote in future elections. One event led 1,200 Florida residents to apply for citizenship.
Toward the beginning of each fall semester, MDC holds a huge rally for National Voter Registration Day at one of their campuses. Thousands turned out to recent rallies with students from all eight of the MDC campuses in attendance. Grant funding enabled MDC to bus students into the rally who didn’t have transportation. To increase excitement around the event, MDC brings in celebrities and local elected officials. MDC takes advantage of this excitement and uses it as an opportunity to get unregistered students to register that day. Officials from the local board of elections conduct on-site voter registration at the rallies.
Election related events will continue throughout the semester. Last fall, MDC hosted an event that they dubbed “Don’t Cast a Zombie Vote.” The highlight of this Halloween-themed event were the student volunteers who dressed as zombies to bring attention to the importance of making informed voting choices. These costumed volunteers distributed flyers containing information about issues relevant to the upcoming election and information about where they could cast their ballot. The events MDC has planned for this fall will maintain the students’ excitement carrying over from the primaries.