A month ago, Roanoke College President Mike Maxey appointed a top administrator to make signing up for TurboVote part of the orientation process for every new student. Why? In his own words to The Roanoke Times: “It’s about building habits of citizenship from the start.”

TurboVote and President Maxey are leading a new effort to reinvent campus voter engagement. Technology has made engaging voters on campus easier than ever, but it can only achieve its potential when campus leaders are empowered to use it to its fullest extent.

President Maxey is not alone. He, 10 other college presidents, and 35 student body presidents from across the country are joining together to launch The New Standard for Campus Voter Engagement. The New Standard is simple: every college should provide each student with all the information and materials that he or she needs to vote in every election, from local to presidential.

Show your support by signing on at newstandard.turbovote.org

Here’s the good news: every college in America can meet The New Standard by fall 2014 if they start taking steps now to institutionalize voter engagement in the class registration or freshman orientation processes. Our work with 58 colleges last year taught us an important lesson: investing a little bit of time in strategic outreach can engage many more voters than countless hours of less-focused work. And by far the most effective tactic schools could employ was to seamlessly embed voter engagement into key processes—like class registration and freshman orientation—that every student needs to pass through.

Together, we can make that happen. Alumni, students, faculty, and administrators speaking out in support of long-term voter engagement can empower campus leaders to take action.

The New Standard is already catching on nationwide. Last month, former Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) and former Congressman Lou Frey (R-FL) sent a letter in support of the New Standard to every college president in the state of Florida. Monday morning, President Duncan of Rollins College sent a letter to all presidents in the Associated Colleges of the South encouraging them to sign on as well. Campus Compact, the American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment networks, and the National Campus Leadership Council are all working to get their member schools on board.

But just as importantly, it’s also catching on in the local communities where the impact will be felt. In Roanoke, President Maxey was empowered to take action by a community meeting where civic leaders cheered on the efforts of Maxey and other local leaders in higher education to institutionalize voter engagement.

TurboVote’s work with colleges started over a year ago, when Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padrón decided to partner with us to institutionalize voter engagement across all eight MDC campuses. As president of the largest college in America—MDC has over 174,000 students—Padrón knows as well as anyone that institutional action is required in order to make big change. His actions are the embodiment of President Maxey’s remarks.

“Good habits of citizenship aren’t just for individuals,” he says. “They’re for institutions too.”

Can you sign on to The New Standard and send it to every university administrator, student leader, and faculty member you know? newstandard.turbovote.org

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