Athletes volunteering, posing for a picture
St. Thomas athletes prepare to help register Tommies to vote on National Voter Registration Day. (Brandon Woller '17/University of St. Thomas)

Reflecting on CEVEA’s Impactful Civic Engagement in the 2023 Local Elections

As the year draws to a close, the University of St. Thomas Civic Engagement, Voter Education and Advocacy (CEVEA) task force looks back on a transformative year in local civic engagement. Spearheaded by dynamic initiatives like the Voter Ambassadors program and the CEVEA Faculty Ambassadors, along with a series of targeted events, the university has made significant strides in enhancing student involvement in local governance. 

The Voter Ambassadors, under the energetic leadership of students Claire Blum, Maddy Orr, Skye Schultz, Michael Yohanes and Morgan Whiting, have been at the forefront of mobilizing their peers. Their efforts culminated in impressive achievements, such as registering hundreds of students to vote and reaching thousands more through social media campaigns and classroom education. “Seeing the tangible impact of our work has been incredibly rewarding,” shared Yohanes, reflecting the group's sentiment. 

The CEVEA Faculty Ambassadors pilot program represented a novel approach to embedding civic responsibility within academic frameworks. Faculty members, like Ann Johnson, incorporated local election topics into their syllabi and invited peer-voter ambassadors to lead presentations in the classrooms.  

Integrating elections into our curriculum has sparked lively discussions and a deeper understanding of our civic duties.”

Roberto Aspholm, assistant professor of social work and CEVEA faculty liaison 

“Integrating elections into our curriculum has sparked lively discussions and a deeper understanding of our civic duties,” commented Roberto Aspholm, assistant professor of social work and CEVEA faculty liaison. 

The fall events included educational workshops and voter registration stations that were not just well attended but served as critical platforms for dialogue between students and local political figures. These interactions, enriched by expert commentary from political scientists, underscored the importance of local governance. The celebration of National Voter Registration Day kicked off the season with a partnership with St. Thomas D-I athletes who received a crash course on getting their peers registered to vote and met their goal of registering 100 Tommies on paper.  

League of Women Voters at the Fall Activities Fair on National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 19 in St. Paul. (Brandon Woller '17/University of St. Thomas)

Social media campaigns and infographics displayed on university digital boards during the election season captured the enthusiasm and engagement of the students, providing a vivid illustration of the initiative's success. 

With plans to expand reach and innovate new engagement strategies, the CEVEA initiatives are poised to continue their impactful journey. As they prepare for future elections, the 2023 efforts serve as a robust foundation for fostering a culture of civic engagement within the university community year-round and not just during presidential or midterm elections.  

The CEVEA initiatives of 2023 have not only elevated student awareness and participation in local elections but have also contributed significantly to a broader movement of student civic engagement across the nation, marking a pivotal moment in the university’s history.