Hannah Rudkin (Social Work) holds up a "I Will Vote" sticker during a voter registration drive by School of Social Work and Justice and Peace Studies students on October 13, 2016 in the O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center.

St. Thomas' Hill Awarded Fellow Support to Get Out the Vote

The Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) selected School of Social Work associate professor Katharine Hill to receive funding to host a CEEP fellow this year to help encourage young people to get out and vote.

The recognition comes out of Hill’s extensive work and research around voter engagement and registration, specifically in the homeless population. Hill is working with Sofia Leyva as a paid student fellow at St. Thomas throughout fall semester, as well as volunteer fellow Kelsey DiBias.

“Dr. Hill has been a leader in educating students, faculty, staff and community on the importance of voting,” said Theresa Ricke-Kiely, executive director of St. Thomas’ Center for the Common Good. “She is a volunteer, she teaches about voting in her classes, and has been asked to present about this effort at conferences. She was a natural pick.”

“I’m very excited about receiving this award and the opportunities it will bring,” Hill said. “I think that college campuses in general, and St. Thomas specifically, are really well positioned to address this issue. We know our students, and we place a high value on building community and connection among them and with the greater world. Working on our campus to develop good voting habits is a direct way to impact the common good. I’m really looking forward to connecting with students and the rest of campus to figure out a way to engage around voting that is reflective of St. Thomas and of our community’s interests and values.”

Hill, Leyva and DiBias have been working throughout the semester to get students registered to vote, as well as provide sample ballots and guides on candidates and how to vote in line with your values.

"Turning up to vote, especially as a young person, is critical," DiBias said. "Young people do not show up to the polls and the political climate could easily be changed if we showed up to vote for what we believe in."

CEEP is a national nonpartisan project that helps America’s colleges and universities get as many of their 20 million students as possible to register, volunteer in campaigns, educate themselves and vote. Hill and the student fellows are working with CEEP fellows across the country.

“Voter turnout among young people is traditionally very low – only 19 percent of eligible young people (below the age of 29) in the last midterm elections," Hill said. "This has a number of repercussions, including that many of the issues that young people care about don’t get the attention they deserve, as it effectively removes the opinions and preferences of young people from the voting process.”

See what St. Thomas students had to say in an Oct. 10 Kare 11 story about voter turnout in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.