STUDENT GOVERNMENT TOOLKIT
Student Governments and Student Fellows
As a member of your student government you can make a powerful difference at your school. One key area is involving your student body in local, state and federal elections.
One of Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP)'s most impactful approaches has been recruiting student Fellows to help carry out nonpartisan campus engagement efforts. Trained and guided by their CEEP state director, these Fellows receive stipends to spend roughly 10 hours a week collaborating with campus election engagement coalitions, recruiting teams of volunteer peers, and helping with voter registration, voter education, and Get Out The Vote initiatives. A growing number of student governments are funding and working with these Fellows, with excellent results. For instance University of Wisconsin Madison and Stevens Point supported five $1,000 Fellows apiece in 2014. We've created this resource in the hope that you'll join them.
Examples of what Student Fellows can do:
- Find allies among campus organizations, departments, and leaders, helping them develop their outreach plans in accordance with CEEP resources like our master engagement resource, 7 Key Ways to Act.
- Recruit volunteer teams of 15-20 other students, building on existing relationships and networks
- Help create a nonpartisan brand that uses your campus website, social media and posters to identify your nonpartisan campaign.
- Promote voter registration, including registering voters at first year orientation, assisting with National Voter Registration Day, and organizing tabling and canvassing activities, like residential “dorm storms”;
- Help students get the necessary ID to register and vote, while meeting evolving legal requirements;
- Distribute CEEP’s Nonpartisan Candidate Guides and related nonpartisan materials to foster discussion and give students a sense of the issues at stake;
- Organize campus forums and debate watch parties;
- Work with your campus team to send out campus-wide election-related emails and social media alerts;
- Collect pledges to vote;
- Run phone banks to confirm student registration status and remind students to vote;
- Create and implement a Get Out The Vote campaign, coordinating everything from transportation to visibility and key voting information.
Talk with your fellow Student Government Association (SGA) members well in advance of any budget decisions, so they have time to consider supporting Fellows. Describe the impact that supporting student Fellows can have on student electoral participation. Stress that their state CEEP director will take prime responsibility for training and supervision, so SGA can be as involved as much or little as they choose. A stipend of $800-$1,000 can support a Fellow from the beginning of fall term until Election Day.
Your student government may already know students who'd make excellent potential Fellows. You can also post positions through your campus community service and civic engagement offices, and departments like political science, communications, and sociology, or any others that might be interested.
In addition to supporting the Fellows, SGA can support efforts like printing and distributing key materials like CEEP’s nonpartisan candidate guides, supplying food and audio equipment for nonpartisan election-related events, and arranging transportation for off-campus registration drives and shuttles to early voting or Election Day polling stations.
Once you've secured funding, you can then craft a job description, perhaps adapting the one below from University of Wisconsin Madison. What goals do you want your student Fellows to accomplish? Who will be their prime SGA contact person? How much of a role do you want SGA to play in actively supervising them, or would you prefer to have your CEEP state director take the lead?
Here's a sample job description below from University of Wisconsin-Madison. For more information and ideas, please contact your CEEP State Director.
Sample Job Posting for a Student Government-Funded Student Fellow
The University of Wisconsin Madison Student Government Association secured funds for student fellows to help register students, train volunteers and work with local community groups. Here’s an edited version of their job posting—in this case for a student Vote Coordinator. For even greater impact, you can adapt it to fund a larger team of Fellows.
Position Title: Vote Coordinator
Organization: Associated Students of Madison (ASM)
Enrollment Status: Must be a currently enrolled student at UW-Madison
Selection Process: Elected by the ASM Student Council
Term of Office: Fall Semester
Total Payment: $800-$1,000 per semester
Hours Per Week: 10-15 hours per week
Duties and Responsibilities:
- Be part of the ASM's voter registration campaign for the November election.
- Help coordinate the Madison Student Vote Coalition, including Student Vote Organizers
- Meet with organizing staff on a weekly basis
- Work with the Legislative Affairs Chair, the University Affairs Chair, The Recruitment and Retention Coordinator, The Chair and Vice Chair of ASM, and the Press Office.
Beginning of Fall Semester
- Learn Wisconsin voter registration laws and become a Madison Special Registration Ambassador
- Prepare campaign plan to be approved by ASM's Chair and presented to the Student Council
- Build connections with Madison Vote Coalition partners
- Work with administration, University Housing, the City of Madison and any other groups to develop events and timelines for the campaign
Beginning of Fall Semester – Mid-October
- Register voters via, tabling, canvassing, and other methods as outlined in campaign plan
- Phone bank to correct incomplete voter registration forms
- Assist in the ASM kickoff during voter registration to recruit vote volunteers
- Help train vote volunteers, hold and coordinate volunteer trainings
- Drop off completed voter registration forms to the City Clerk
Mid-Oct – Election Day
- Coordinate Get Out The Vote (GOTV) effort
- Encourage student voter turnout via class raps, tabling, events and other methods outlined in campaign plan
Post-Election Day – End of Quarter
- Hold post-election debrief with volunteers and member of ASM leadership
- Prepare report for Student Council, including what did/didn’t work and recommendations for change
- Outline structure for next Vote Campaign
- UW-Madison Student
- Willingness to learn all aspects of the Associated Students of Madison
- General interest in grassroots organizing and voter turnout
- Understanding of the importance of the student vote
- Flexible with job tasks and time commitments
- Organizing Experience
- Meet at-least monthly with Student Council Chair or Vice Chair.
- Attend coordinating Council meetings
- File monthly stipend report