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Carson-Newman University Students Win Statewide Award for Voter Registration Campaign

Students at Sullivan Foundation partner school Carson-Newman University won a statewide award following an “Eagle Vote Project” campaign that helped college students register to vote.

Tennessee’s Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Rep. Jeremy Faison last month presented students with a trophy in recognition of their winning efforts during the 2019 Tennessee College Voter Registration Competition in the category of private colleges and universities.

Related: Carson-Newman University honors two students with Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Participating students told Hargett that the campaign fit well with Carson-Newman’s culture of helping and welcoming others. Thomas Fodor, a senior political science major from Talbott, said he enjoyed interacting with students and reassuring them that voter registration is an easy process.

Hargett encouraged the students to continue urging their peers to vote. “You carry much more weight with your sphere of influence than I do,” he said. “It’s up to you to try to get people in your sphere of influence to vote. When people participate, our society, as a whole, wins.”

Faison echoed that encouragement, noting that most voters are over the age of 55.

“We often hear people fighting for their rights. The right to vote is a right that you have to exercise,” Faison said. “Fight for what you believe in.”

The competition took place during September in honor of National Voter Registration Month. Every college and university in the state had the chance to compete by registering the most students to vote and to spread awareness of the campaign on social media using the hashtag #GoVoteTN, along with their school-specific hashtag. For Carson-Newman, the latter was #EagleVote.

Related: Carson-Newman University addresses food insecurity among college students

The Eagle Vote Project is an effort of Dr. Kara Stooksbury’s senior seminar class. In 2019, the Bonner Center and Student Government Association also participated. In addition to social media, students set up tables in the cafeteria and student activities center and placed QR codes linking to online voter registration around campus.

“I’m so proud that my students are being recognized for their contributions to civic engagement,” said Stooksbury, chair of the Department of History, Political Science and Sociology. “Voting is one of our most important rights as citizens, and too often college students are left out of the electoral process because they don’t register to vote.”

Carson-Newman University Addresses Food Insecurity Among College Students

Sullivan Foundation partner school Carson-Newman University, located in Jefferson City, Tenn., has opened an on-campus food pantry to help students dealing with food insecurity.

Called The Store, the pantry will open officially with a ribbon cutting on Oct. 10, but the university’s Student Success Center will start accepting donations this weekend, as alumni and fans pour into town for the football game against Virginia-Wise.

“Student Success is thrilled to partner with our campus community and our athletic department to kick off our on-campus food pantry,” Amy Humphrey, co-director of Student Success, said in a press release. “Many people are surprised to learn that, nationally, over 48 percent of college students face food insecurities, which can have a direct impact on a student’s academic performance and overall success.”

The service is offered free to all Carson-Newman students. The Store is requesting donations for food items like canned meats and ravioli, soups, peanut butter, jelly, chips, Ramen noodles, mac and cheese and individual microwaveable meals.

As Inside Higher Ed reported in April 2019, researchers are struggling to get accurate statistics about college students who face hunger or food insecurity. A close review of multiple studies found discrepancies in the way hunger is measured, according to a paper authored by Cassandra J. Nikolaus, Breanna Ellison and Sharon Nickols-Richardson. Accurate numbers are needed “so we can effectively implement and assess the solutions,” Nikolaus told Inside Higher Ed. “These surveys are commonly used to assess need on campus, screen students for services and evaluate the impact of interventions. If the surveys aren’t accurate, then the endeavors to address college food insecurity are potentially being compromised at each of these steps.”

Many lower-income students have to give up regular meals to pay for books and tuition. “This is the new economics of college,” Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University, told U.S. News & World Report in May 2019. “Yes, tuition has gone up, but, more importantly, the financial supports available to students have not kept up with the cost of living, which has also increased.”

Goldrick-Rab is also founder of Temple’s Hope Center for College. A recent Hope Center survey found that nearly half of all responding students in two- and four-year schools had faced food insecurity in the past 30 days. Seven percent of two-year-college students and 5 percent of four-year students said they’d skipped eating for a full day due to lack of money to buy food.

Food insecurity has become such a problem on college campuses in New York that Governor Andrew Cuomo last year mandated that all of the state’s public colleges and universities offer on-campus pantry services.

This story was adapted from the original article appearing on the Carson-Newman University website.