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KC Spotlight: Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE)

August 4, 2019 Sabrina Wienholtz Director of Student Clubs, Organizations and Leadership

Greetings from your Region IV-West representative to the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Knowledge Community! Though my day job is not directly connected to CLDE work, I feel passionately that we as Higher Education Professionals must empower groups and individuals on our campuses to become civically aware and engaged. Some of our campuses host offices of civic engagement and service learning – staffed and resourced specifically to cultivate such a civic ethos.  Many of our campuses do not…  Given the upcoming 2020 election and census, it is imperative that every campus endeavor to engage students in these important democratic processes. No matter how efforts on your campus are organized, there are resources available to support you.

Election Resources

  • The NASPA LEAD Initiative on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (LEAD Initiative) comprises a network of NASPA member colleges and universities committed to encouraging and highlighting the work of student affairs in making civic learning and democratic engagement a part of every student’s college education.[i] My campus is not a LEAD Initiative campus. Regardless of whether your campus has been able to make that commitment, the LEAD page on the NASPA website is home to a tremendous variety of resources that are available to all NASPA members
  • Campus Compact is another organization that has curated resources related to increasing student political participation. Resources are non-partisan, appropriate for college campuses, and available publicly.

Census 2020 Resources
Many of the resources listed with the NASPA Lead Initiative, Campus Compact, and other partners revolve around student engagement with local and national elections. While there are a wide variety of resources available in support of those efforts, less is available in support of engaging students with the upcoming 2020 census. 

  • The James Madison Center for Civic Engagement website does a great job describing why the 2020 Census matters as well as providing some key facts regarding the process. For example, did you know that college students will be counted in the communities where they go to school and live the majority of the year? Most college students should be counted at their college address, either on campus or off campus. They should be counted at their parents’ home only if they live and sleep there most of the year.[ii]
  • The NASPA CLDE KC and Voter Friendly Campus just announced a presentation on engaging with the 2020 Census. The live briefing is free to NASPA members and non-members - providing an overview of the 2020 Census, campus educational opportunities, and national landscape related to the topic.[iii]

As I write this, the Supreme Court has blocked inclusion of the citizenship question from the 2020 census questionnaire. It is hard to say how things will play out politically. What we do know is that the upcoming census will determine representation and resource allocation for years to come. Never in my career has educating and engaging students in the census seemed so vital.  Knowing about available resources has encouraged me to think about how I can initiate efforts on my campus.  I hope they will do the same for you.

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