From the Desk of Director Anita A. Ruf-Young
Greetings and Happy New Year, Vikes!
The Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) believes that encouraging active citizen engagement throughout our campus and beyond is something that must be fostered and encouraged each year. CSU is rooted in the heart of Cleveland and uses the motto Engaged Learning for good reason - CSU Students are engaged in this community through a variety of learning experiences including our programs Viking Corps, America Reads, and Democracy Fellowships.
Fall 2022 was a busy time for The Office of Civic Engagement. On the community side of our office, we hired and placed 69 students in paid tutoring roles at 14 Cleveland Public Library sites, Cleveland Metropolitan School District sites including Davis Aerospace & Maritime High School, three Teen Refugee Response High School locations, and a Cleveland Heights’ Library branch. Soon our website will showcase a video we created with our tutors, their students, and their teachers at Davis A&M High School. You will hear firsthand how CSU students are making a difference in these high schoolers’ lives.
Just after the Midterm Elections, the OCE received news that CSU was recognized as a 2022 ALL IN Most Engaged Campus for college student voting. We are one of 394 colleges and universities to receive this award honoring our intentional efforts to increase student voting participation and educate informed, active citizens. Each year we update our Campus Democracy Action Plan, and this year’s plan was bolstered by CSU President Dr. Laura Bloomberg signing on making a public commitment to full student voter participation. Updating our yearly Action Plan prepares us to take on new initiatives, but it is the consistent voter information dissemination that is the backbone of our work.
Since July of 2022, we hosted over 28 voter registration and information tables registering over 375 students and completing over 283 vote by mail applications with our partner Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates. The OCE engaged student voters at National Voter Registration Day, One World Day in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, and at MagnusFest welcoming CSU’s newest Vikings. The OCE also prepared 1,355 packets of voter registration materials for CSU’s First Year Experience curriculum. We renewed our partnership with the Michael Schwartz Library, and Librarian Amanda Goodsett created a nonpartisan voter research guide personalized with a video walking through the materials.
The OCE mentors three Democracy Fellows through the Campus Vote Project. Jack, Kaylee, and Justin were our Fall Fellows seen on campus recruiting ballot box openers for the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (BOE) as well as making videos educating the CSU community as to what was on one’s ballot, the logistics and ID necessary to vote, and how to get involved on Election Day through paid opportunities. With their efforts, the OCE was able to recruit 92 ballot box openers for the BOE who got to witness “Democracy in Action” while earning some extra money.
The OCE hosted our first event with the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. The event’s purpose was to spark dialogue between students and local government officials on topics of the students’ choosing. The CSU Men’s Basketball Team participated at that event and have since become a key partner in our office’s work. We had the privilege to walk to the polls with the team while some of the players cast their vote for the first time. This relationship continues to grow as the OCE is also partnering with the team on a service project.
This spring the OCE will continue to place tutors in the community and prepare voters for the May Primary Election. Mutually beneficial partnerships are at the core of our work, and we are excited to see what new relationships will develop this semester.
All my best,
Anita A. Ruf-Young
Director, The Office of Civic Engagement
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