ASUU encourages civic involvement

By By Patrick Reimherr

By Patrick Reimherr

ASUU made civic engagement and overall political awareness on campus one of its top priorities during the 2008-2009 academic year. Our mission was to get students across the state involved in the political process and in the habit of voting at an early age.

In conjunction with other universities and colleges around the state of Utah, the Associated Students of the University of Utah organized and held the first annual Conference for Political and Civic Engagement at the U, where we solicited the nationally renowned Student Empowerment Training Project to conduct comprehensive training on getting students registered to vote.

Ten higher education institutions attended the event. Based on the success of all the schools in engaging their students in the political process, the conference was successful and we hope it will be a long-standing tradition at the U.

The techniques from the conference were employed on the campus to great effect. We created a network of coalitions and volunteers, utilized tabling, class presentations and held several events to register students to vote. We registered more than 3,000 students on campus to vote and entered a national competition, where we placed within the top 10 universities across the United States in the number of students registered to vote.

At the beginning of October, we held our annual Impact Day, bringing more than 50 local and state campaigns to the U. This allowed the political candidates to voice their platforms and educate students about the issues, while creating a forum for discussion.

To bring our mission full circle, we worked with the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office to bring a satellite early voting station to the U, making it as easy as possible for students on campus to vote.

We were the second highest attended satellite station in Salt Lake County, casting more than 7,800 votes at our location. We were told that more than 60 percent of those who voted at the U were students.

Political engagement does not end with the ballot box. In fact, it is just the beginning. As the country faces some of its most challenging times, it is important that every individual be involved in the process.

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Editor’s Note8212;Patrick Reimherr is president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah. Andrew Jensen, ASUU Government Relations Chair, contributed to this column.

Patrick Reimherr