The magazine yet again highlighted UMSL on its list of the “Best Colleges for Student Voting,” which was included in its 2022 College Guide and Rankings. The annual list recognizes schools that show “a repeated commitment to increasing student voting.” UMSL, which has a voter registration rate above 85%, has been included on the list every year since Washington Monthly started measuring student voting in its annual college rankings in 2018.
In order to qualify for this year’s list, universities were required to submit 2020 and 2022 action plans to the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge and make their 2018 and 2020 data from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) – which calculates college-specific registration and voting rates – available to the public.
Patricia Zahn, UMSL’s director of community engagement and outreach, was thrilled to see UMSL receiving more recognition for its students’ high voting rates, which the university has tracked since 2013 when it joined the NSLVE.
“At that time, we learned that our voting rate for UMSL students is almost 8% higher than the predicted rate, even after controlling for factors such as student demographics, location, the political climate of the state and institutional type,” she said. “Since that time, our voting rate has steadily increased during both mid-term and presidential election years. I believe this is due to work being done to create a campus environment for civic and community engagement.”
That work is led chiefly by UMSL’s Civic Engagement Coalition, which meets monthly throughout the year to plan and support a variety of programs and opportunities to encourage active civic participation. In collaboration with faculty, staff and student organizations including UMSL’s Student Government Association and Political Science Academy as well as the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, the coalition develops an annual plan based on the needs and interests of its students and members.
The Civic Engagement Coalition ensures that there are opportunities for voter registration throughout the year, such as a recent initiative for National Voter Registration Day, as well as educational events where students can learn about specific ballot issues and candidates. This year, they’re expanding those efforts to the surrounding community, as the UMSL campus is serving as a polling place for St. Louis County voters. Residents will be able to cast their votes in one of the third-floor Century Rooms at the Millennium Student Center on Nov. 8 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“This is another way that the university is demonstrating our strong commitment to civic participation,” Zahn said.