Faculty: Please support WSA student voter registration initiative

Letter to the faculty from WMU-AAUP President Lisa Minnick:

Dear colleagues:

A fundamental goal in higher education is to prepare students for thoughtful citizenship and participation in our democratic society. A starting point for this participation is voting, yet many students are effectively disenfranchised in Michigan if they are not registered to vote in their college communities.

This year, the Western Student Association has once again launched an extensive voter registration initiative on our campus, this time under the capable leadership of WSA Political Affairs Chair Chiante’ Lymon.

Recognizing the importance of student voter registration, the WMU-AAUP has joined with student leaders to support this non-partisan, student-led initiative. Part of our role in this is to encourage you, the faculty, to talk with your students about voter registration, to remind them that they can (and should) register to vote on campus, and to invite trained student volunteers to visit your classes and get your students registered.

This is an essential initiative. Too often, students miss out on exercising their voting rights. They may believe they are registered to vote when they are not or that they are eligible to vote in Kalamazoo if they are registered in their home precincts. As faculty, we can help to clear up these misconceptions, encourage students who are uncertain about their registration status to register in Kalamazoo, and inform them about how they can do so easily, thanks to this registration project.

We ask also that you be aware of and help to address challenges that can result in student disenfranchisement. Students registered at their home addresses who plan to vote by absentee ballot may be discouraged at election time by the planning and lead time required. Additionally, at WMU and nationwide, erroneous claims that registering locally will impact their financial aid eligibility or affect their insurance coverage may discourage many students from registering on campus. We can help by informing our students that there is no truth to these often-repeated urban legends.

Finally, please consider allowing WMU students trained in voter registration to visit your classes before the October 11 deadline for the general election in November.

These visits are an effective way to reach students and to get them registered. In just a few minutes, the volunteers can provide registration forms, answer questions, and collect completed forms.

Ms. Lymon and her team have set a goal to register or re-register (for students who have moved) over 5,000 voters before the voter registration deadline of October 11, 2016. She reports that the in-class registration process takes approximately 12 minutes, including Q&A.

If you are wiling to have a student trained in voter registration visit your class between now and October 11, please email the following information to Ms. Chiante’ Lymon at wevote@wmich.edu:

Class/section name:
Faculty name:
Faculty phone:
Date(s) they can visit your class(es):
Building and room numbers of class(es):
Days and times your classes meet (beginning and end times):
Approximate number of students in your classes:

On behalf of the WMU-AAUP Executive Committee, many thanks to all of you in advance for your participation in this important initiative.


Lisa C. Minnick
President, WMU-AAUP

WMU Voter Registration Update, GOTV, and Mark Schauer at WMU

  • 1,900 WMU Students Registered in Fall 2014 Initiative
  • Faculty Needed to Get Out the Vote
  • Gubernatorial Candidate Mark Schauer (D) to Visit WMU October 21

As you know, the WMU-AAUP is a sponsor of the 2014 WMU student voter registration project. While the deadline for registration has passed, the project is moving now into the get-out-the-vote stage with the hope of maximizing student participation in the November 4 election.

Faculty can help with the GOTV effort by volunteering to work on phone banks beginning on October 27 and throughout the week leading up to election day (Tuesday, November 4). This GOTV project is, like the voter registration project, a nonpartisan effort to try to encourage as many of our students as possible to develop voting habits while they are in college in the hope that they will continue to exercise their rights to participate actively in the democratic process throughout their lives.

If you’d like to volunteer for GOTV phone banking, please contact Nora Gimpel, the fantastic WMU student who is heading up the GOTV effort. (Many of you had the opportunity to meet Nora at the chapter meeting last Friday.) For her contact information, please see the WMU-AAUP email to the faculty dated Monday, October 20.

On a related note, although this is not part of the registration and GOTV project, the Democratic candidate for governor, Mark Schauer, will be visiting WMU on Tuesday, October 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the Sangren Mall (in front of Sangren Hall). Admission is free and no tickets are required.

Given that the governor appoints our board and has tremendous influence on the state’s contribution to the WMU budget, Schauer’s visit is an exciting opportunity for WMU faculty, students, and staff, regardless of party affiliation, to ask questions and share our perspectives with the man who might be our next governor. The event is sponsored by Students for a Sustainable Earth and the WMU College Democrats, and Western alum and state senate candidate Sean McCann will also be in attendance. Please be there if you can and encourage your students to attend as well.

Finally, many thanks to all of you who helped to get students registered to vote during the recent initiative. With your help, volunteers visited over 100 classes and registered a total of 1,900 WMU students, a wonderful accomplishment that is the product of a lot of hard work. Speaking of hard work, big thanks are due to our own Dr. Allen Webb, Professor of English, who helped to lead the registration effort. (Thank you, Allen!)

All that is left for us to do now is get our students to the polls on November 4!