Welcome to the Student Government Knowledge Community (SGKC)! As the cost of college tuition continues to rise, our institutions operate under an unprecedented amount of scrutiny. What are students gaining from their college experiences? How are colleges and universities building the next generation of leaders? Student governments vary widely in the level of influence they have on students, institutions and the communities at large. As alumni of student governments from across the country and student affairs practitioners, the SGKC believes in the power of student government to affect positive change on and off campus. We will build stronger Student Governments through a focus on improving internal processes and developing best practices that can be widely shared. Join the conversation!
According to the U.S. Census Bureau statistics, only 33% of young voters between the ages of 18-24 voted in the 2016 general elections. While we as educators in institutions of higher education do need to focus on voter registration and voter education on our campuses, research conducted by M.N. Franklin (Voter Turnout and the Dynamics of Electoral Competition in Established Democracies since 1945) shows that the voter turnout rate when a cohort first becomes eligible to vote has long-term impact. He also shares that young voters are unlikely to vote since they frequently lack knowledge of politics and also become eligible to vote at a time in their lives when they move from their familial homes (and thus are largely separated from older adults). Some like CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement) argue that one way to ameliorate this would be to target high school students in voter registration and education.
Registering students to vote is an important first step in engaging them in our democracy. But how do we help them gain the knowledge and skills to become active citizens? The Civic Engagement Council at Elon University is comprised of faculty, staff, and students from across campus. The Council plans and coordinates a variety of programs to help students approach their civic responsibilities on a deeper level. Programs touch on civic education; deeper dialogue; and race, ethnicity, and faith understanding.
Though not articulated until the 1960s, the one-person, one-vote principle is considered foundational to our representative democracy, echoing in the minds of many the desire of the founding fathers to create a nation “of the people, by the people, for the people”. With the 2020 Census looming, and subsequent mandatory redistricting in all states with more than one congressional district, concerns around ensuring both a complete and accurate census and fair and balanced electoral districts are rising. This post by NASPA director of policy research and advocacy Teri Lyn Hinds explains the relationship between the decennial census and the redistricting process and highlight current threats to ensuring fair representation for everyone in the United States.
From slicing apples to sending texts, education professionals have drawn from a growing suite of behavioral insights to design interventions that positively influence student behavior. Nudging can take on a variety of forms that range in strength and scale, but with such an adaptable concept comes the need to prevent confusion or unintentional misuse in practice. While behavioral interventions are rightfully discussed for their potential to achieve large-scale change at low costs, it’s also worth underscoring the importance of implementing nudges with fidelity. Ethical nudges should be designed with the intention of benefitting those being nudged, and they should never be misleading, coercive, or restrictive. As illustrated in a satirical cartoon from the Behavioral Scientist magazine, a “gentle tap of good sense” falls neatly in the center of the nudge continuum, whereas “feather of statistical insignificance” and “bat of paternalistic overreach” lie on opposite ends. In this post, NASPA's Research and Policy Associate Alexa Wesley offers a few suggestions for ways student affairs professionals can strike the right balance on the nudging scale.
The vision animating this series of essays on higher education’s role in supporting a thriving democracy is fundamentally about culture. What would a thriving civic culture look like, and be like? How would it feel to live and learn in that culture? How would people interact, support each other’s growth, work through and across differences, make collective decisions, and pursue life, liberty, and happiness together? How can colleges and universities support the development of that culture through both structured and unstructured learning experiences, and through campus practices that embody the thriving democracy to which we aspire?
The 2018 Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement (CLDE18) meeting organized by the American Democracy Project (ADP), The Democracy Commitment (TDC) and NASPA LEAD Initiative, is continuing the conversation about our collective emergent Theory of Change adapted from elements of the 2012 A Crucible Moment report. We encourage participants to reflect on how together we can build campus cultures and contexts contribute to a more vibrant democracy, advance civic outcomes and pedagogies, and strategically institutionalize our work.