By Kat Riddler, Managing Editor
Patricia Zahn, Director of Community Outreach & Engagement, was a guest speaker at the Student Government Association General Assembly Meeting on November 10. Zahn carried two awards up with her to the podium to speak about student voting.
The awards were the first of their kind. Zahn traveled to Washington, D.C. for three awards for the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ students being civically involved and voting. Thirty awards were given out total.
Zahn stated that in 2012, according to data gathered as part of the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement conducted by researchers at Tufts University, UMSL was an outlier with 61.7 percent of eligible UMSL students voting in the November election. Just last year, the number rose to 67.4 percent of eligible UMSL students voted last November.
UMSL students voted at a 17 percent higher rate than students nationally when controlled for factors such as the age of the school’s student population, according to UMSL Daily.
Zahn was pleased to share that UMSL also competed in the All In Campus Democracy Challenge where 300 universities around the nation competed for excellence in student voter engagement. UMSL placed first in the competition.
“We have a responsibility to our community and that’s part of who we are as a university,” she said. “That’s why we educate people–for citizenship. That’s why we have public education.”
After the results of 2012, UMSL created a civic engagement coalition that meets every month. They already have programs in the works for next year. This winter, they are hosting sessions with the Governor’s office where students can learn more about how to serve on state boards and commissions, working with Associated Students of University of Missouri to host lunch-and-learns for local elected officials, and planning for voter registration and education efforts in fall 2018.