SMC recognized for turning students into citizens

Published 2:53 pm Friday, September 17, 2021

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College has again been named to Washington Monthly’s “2021 Best Colleges for Student Voting Honor Roll,” repeating a feat also achieved in 2019.

Joining SMC and Delta College, the only Michigan community colleges listed as “schools doing the most to turn students into citizens,” were Michigan State University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and U of M-Dearborn, Oakland University, Wayne State University, Saginaw Valley State University, Grand Valley State University and Michigan Technological University.

The 2020 presidential election unfolded amid high levels of voter turnout. According to the Census Bureau, 66.8 percent of eligible adults cast ballots, the highest rate since 1992. Other estimates suggest that last year’s turnout rate bested the 1992 level, and may be the highest since 1900.

For the first time since the U.S. let 18-year-olds vote, more than half of all 18- to 24-year-olds cast ballots. The 51.4 percent of young people who voted blows the 2016 mark — 39.4 percent — out of the water.

Washington Monthly reported, “The increase in youth voting is one of the most striking shifts among any demographic. Turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds grew by more than double the overall increase from 2016: 12 percentage points versus 5.4 points.”

Professor of Social Science Dr. Mary Young-Marcks, a frequent guest on WNIT’s “Politically Speaking,” and Assistant Director of Campus Life Branden Pompey put together a series, #SMCVotes, that started before Michigan’s March presidential primary. Political buttons in school colors were distributed at non-partisan, civic-awareness programs.

For example, Pompey moderated a discussion with two Dowagiac City Council members, Danielle Lucas and Patrick Bakeman, exploring why they decided to seek elective office, what organizing a political campaign entails and what holding public office means to them.

“We’re here to talk about the process and to get people energized about voting,” Pompey said.

Both lists in 2019 and 2021 bestow national recognition for excellence in student voter engagement from the non-partisan ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, which encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship and to make democratic participation a core campus value.

The nonprofit Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works, and how to make it work better.