Why do we need a Faculty Network to support student voting rights?

In recent years, and especially since 2016, hundreds of campus-based, state, and national organizations have been founded to register and turn-out students as voters [see the SLSV Coalition for a list of those]. To date, however, no networks or organizations have taken up the charge to organize faculty in support of students’ right to vote. The FacNet exists to fill that gap, by recruiting faculty at all levels and in all fifty states as institutional allies for student organizers.

How will we maintain a nonpartisan stance, and why?

Most universities and colleges are classified as 501c3 charitable organizations by the IRS, which means that they must rigorously abstain from any activity that a reasonable person would conclude is an endorsement of a candidate or party: that’s what “nonpartisan” means. Although your student rights activism may be volunteer-based, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid language or acts that suggest support for particular candidates, or partisan agendas:  we believe every student has the right to vote.

How can I receive more communication in the network?

Join our Slack!

How can I become more involved with the network?

Members may join one of our subcommittees, devoted to furthering a few of our different goals. Time commitment is flexible and there is potential for faculty to receive small stipends for doing this work. The groups will help further our long-term efforts and help us focus on the needs and perspectives of faculty members. The subcommittees include:

  1. Resources — brainstorming and testing resources for faculty to utilize in the classroom and online.
  2. Membership — growing our network by recruiting members and institutions across the U.S.
  3. Scholarship — providing guidance on how to mobilize in a non-partisan, academic setting. 
  • If interested in joining, please fill out THIS FORM

What would a member of the network actually do on her or his campus?

The 1998 Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 requires college and university administrations to make good-faith efforts to facilitate students registering to vote. As faculty, we are in a position to insist that our deans and presidents fulfill that obligation.  We can also help students gain access to campus resources—from funding and meeting space, to assistance with social media and communications. Finally, our classrooms are crucial spaces for education on voting rights. Faculty can welcome nonpartisan volunteers into classes to register students, and publicize the correct information about when and where to vote as Election Day approaches.

Why are state networks necessary?

Because the Constitution gives the individual states the authority to regulate elections, national elections in the U.S. are effectively fifty separate elections.  How voter registration works, whether or not there is mail-in or early voting, the administration of provisional ballots, hours of polling places, and much more varies greatly from state-to-state, and often from county-to-county. Faculty need to network within their own states, where they will confront procedures and problems unique to their particular legal framework.

How do we register students if the universities remain closed or students opt not to return to classes?

This is the $64,000 question! First, it will depend on what your particular state mandates, in terms of closings, and on administrative decisions by individual institutions. What the FacNet will do is make all of its members aware in real-time of how other schools are handling mail-in voting and school closings in the fall (especially if there are major resurgences of COVID-19).