UHD Named Voter Friendly Campus for Second Consecutive Year
By Indira Zaldivar & Edward Saenz, The Dateline
UHD is officially named a “Voter Friendly Campus” for the second consecutive year by the Campus Vote Project (CVP) (a Fair Elections Center project) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. UHD is one of 258 campuses in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
The initiative recognizes institutions that have planned and implemented practices that encourage their students to register and vote in the 2022 elections and in coming years. The two nonpartisan organizations evaluated the campus’ reported ability to complete a multi-step process that included submitting a plan and reporting the results after implementing the plan for the general election.
More specifically, the multi-step process included “engaging a coalition of campus members from staff, faculty, students, community organizations, and local election officials to develop a written plan for how the institution would engage student voters in 2022, facilitating voter education and engagement efforts on campus, and writing a final analysis of their efforts reflecting on what worked and what to change going forward,” according to CVP’s designation announcement. The mission of the 2023 Voter Friendly Campus designation is to bolster colleges’ and universities’ efforts to help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process—every year, not just during years featuring federal elections.
Student Activities Director and Staff Council President Tremaine Kwasikpui volunteered to compile the civic-engagement efforts of the Spring and Fall 2022 semesters in the final report submitted in January to NASPA and CVP.
“I submitted all our reports, showcasing our combined hard work, leadership, and dedication to the greater UHD community through civic engagement,” Kwasikpui said. “After another successful year of civic engagement, I have the pleasure of announcing that we have received the status of a ‘Voter Friendly Campus.’”
Kwasikpui continued, “Personally, this means so much. We all struggle with things, and I wanted to ensure that I help others know that you can do anything when you put your mind to it. This designation proved to me that we are capable of anything when we try and work hard.”
Many collaborative actions contributed to the acknowledgment of this designation.
In July 2022, UHD News announced that faculty of the College of Public Service received a $730,000 Houston Endowment grant for “project-specific goals surrounding real-life opportunities with voting rights and civic empowerment initiatives.”
Also in summer of 2022, CVP awarded UHD with a $3,000 grant that included stipends for three students as campus Democracy Fellows. “Being a Democracy Fellow allows me to not only connect with my school [but also] for me to be involved in something I care about, which is voting rights,” junior Martinez Tejero said. “The people I’ve met along the way have taught me a lot about my school and the different clubs and activities on campus.”
This past September saw a civic engagement week organized by student organizations Texas Rising-UHD and Student Organization for Latinx, the College of Public Service, and the voter advocacy organization JOLT Action. Civic Engagement Week honored Constitution Day and served as a hub for registering voters and sharing voting information.
“We hosted numerous voter registration drives as an institution,” Kwasikpui added. In addition, the Center for Public Deliberation engaged political candidates, members of UHD, and the community-at-large in student-led deliberations on the midterm election.
With UHD’s Welcome Center as home to the first on-campus polling location, students led a crowd of voters from the UHD South Deck to the voting site on campus during the 10th annual Walk2Vote, as reported by Shaheryar Khan and Indira Zaldivar in The Dateline’s Volume 69, Issue 6.
“There are so many actions that helped with being acknowledged for this designation,” Kwasikpui said.
As a proud leader on campus, Kwasikpui shared a passionate message about student service and involvement. “Continue to excel. Let this designation be your ‘why,’ for knowing the world is watching, so let’s give them a show. To the UHD student body, you are the best of the best. Never let anyone tell you different.”
The institutions designated as a Voter Friendly Campuses represent a wide range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural, and urban campuses, collectively serving over 3.5 million students. Notably, the list of designated institutions includes 49 Minority Serving Institutions and 13 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well as 41 community Colleges.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.