Pacific Remains Only Voter Friendly University Campus in Oregon
“If you build it, they will come.” And just like the famous line in the film Field of Dreams, Pacific University has built a robust voter education plan, which keeps the awards coming and students voting.
Pacific has once again earned the designation as a Voter Friendly Campus for 2023-2024 from two national voting rights organizations. The university also remains the only higher education institute in Oregon to be named a Voter Friendly Campus.
According to the Tom McCall Center for Civic Engagement (MCCE), 252 students pledged to vote in 2022, which is considered a strong rate for a midterm election season. Two years earlier, 331 students pledged to vote.
“It’s an ongoing process. Getting the award frees us up to know we're doing the right thing,” said Professor Jim Moore, director of Political Outreach for Pacific’s Tom McCall Center.
“When you combine that with the voter turnouts for our students the feedback is pretty clear and that keeps us going.”
Pacific earned its first Voter Friendly Campus designation in 2021-2022. In its latest announcement, organizers from the national nonpartisan groups Campus Vote Project and NASPA honored the university for building its comprehensive Pacific Votes campaign, which contributed to a high youth voter turnout nationwide.
Pacific Votes targeted civic engagement through a 2022 Voter Pledge as well as pre- and post-election forums. Some of those forums created an opportunity for students to access nonpartisan information about ballot measures in the states where they were registered to vote in.
“Ballot measures will directly impact the lives of students now and in the future,” said Morgan Knapp, McCall Center program manager and adjunct professor.
“We help students understand that they can participate in the political process by simply reading the voters pamphlet.”
A Mission of Civic Engagement
In an era plagued by fake news and efforts to derail voting rights across the country, the civic engagement work of the McCall Center has become even more essential. A key challenge for staff is to make sure students understand that voting is a right.
“The idea of fake news is intimidating to a lot of students,” said Stephanie Stokamer, director of the Tom McCall Center for Civic Engagement.
“I think one of our tasks is to encourage students to believe in themselves, to help them realize that they have the tools to sift through at their fingertips and that they have the ability to make good decisions.”
Look for more information coming soon from the McCall Center about the university’s participation in the following events for fall 2023 on the Forest Grove Campus:
- Aug. 24 | Your Vote, Your Future: Get Registered to Vote at Pacific University
- Sept. 17 | Constitution Day
- Sept. 19| National Voter Registration Day
- Oct. 2-6 | National Voter Education Week
Engaged students are nothing new for Pacific. In 2020, the McCall Center reported a campus-wide voting rate of 67.5% (higher than the national average for institutions of higher education and the general public) with significant voting rate increases for specific student identities (Asian +29%, American Indian/Alaska Native +24%, Black +29%, 2 or more races +19%)
The Tom McCall Center has participated in the All-In Campus Democracy Challenge since 2017.
Learn more about the Pacific Votes 2023-2024 Voter Friendly Campus Designation Year-End-Report, which includes voting goals through 2032.