McKendree Earns Another Voter Friendly Campus Designation

(LEBANON, Ill., March 8, 2021) — McKendree University’s commitment to civic and electoral engagement has earned it a “Voter Friendly Campus” designation for 2021-2022 by the Campus Vote Project and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), two national nonpartisan organizations. The university joined the initiative in 2018 and was one of two Illinois universities to receive the designation in 2019-2020 as well. McKendree also participates in the ALL IN Democracy Challenge. 

In the face of COVID-19 restrictions in 2020, the Bearcats Vote team, created by McKendree’s ALL IN civic engagement committee, registered voters and informed the campus community about the candidates and issues. The team held two voter registration drives during the spring semester and four more in September and October after in-person and hybrid-format classes resumed.  

McKendree professors Dr. Ann Collins and Dr. Pamela Manning, who serve as deputy registrars in St. Clair County, worked with the county clerk’s office to ensure students registered correctly and were able to vote on campus if they had an on-campus address. Approximately 100 students registered to vote in the 2020 elections during the Bearcats Vote drives.

At least 20 more students registered at the on-campus voting site on Nov. 3, the day of the general election, which the state of Illinois allows. In 2018, McKendree partnered with the St. Clair County Clerk’s Office to establish a polling place at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts on campus. It also serves residents of three local precincts in Lebanon and part of O’Fallon. 

In addition, the university hosted two socially distanced, presidential debate-watching gatherings in 2020. Collins gave a lunchtime presentation the week before Election Day to inform students and others about issues and candidates on the ballot and how they could educate themselves further. Team members also used social media, posted fliers, and handed out cards with links to websites with additional information. 

McKendree plans to build on its successful Voter Friendly Campus efforts, said Collins, who oversees the initiative with Jennifer Funk, public services librarian at Holman Library. “We’ll continue to encourage our students to register and then vote, including during local and midterm elections as well. It’s so important for students to realize the power of their voice and then vote at all levels of government. More and more students are beginning to understand that,” she said.