Being a good neighbor doesn’t have to stop at the border of your neighborhood. Staying informed, connected, and active in your local elections can have rippling effects across the world.

Welcome to Earth Month! We will be highlighting various facets and faces among the Champlain community this month that help us move the needle toward a sustainable future.

We know that creating a more sustainable world requires each of us to do our part—a little each day. Recycling, reducing our carbon footprint, and turning off lights when we leave a room included. But this Earth Month, remember that one of the biggest little actions you can make is to cast a vote for a healthier, more equitable future.

That’s why the College’s Center for Service and Sustainability houses Civic Champ, a committee encouraging students to get civically involved in their community. “The College’s mission aspires for students to ‘create a better world’ through our values of engaged learning and interconnecting,” said Director of Service and Sustainability Learning Christina Erickson. “Being an engaged citizen means paying attention to the world around us and doing something about it.”

Staying civically involved throughout the year can help students identify issues and ideas that matter most to them. And staying informed about those things makes it easier for students to decide which policies or elected officials represent their interests most.

Chauncey T. Beaver encourages you to register to vote!

A large part of Civic Champ’s work is to help students register to vote. In the 2020 presidential election, 84 percent of Champlain’s students had registered to vote, while 67 percent of students actually cast ballots. This was an increase from 2016, when the registration rate was 77 percent.

However, there are plenty more elections than one presidential race every four years. Civic Champ’s emphasis on community engagement is a great way to get involved in your local and state-level elections. In fact, this May, dozens of states will hold primary elections for political appointments ranging from gubernatorial seats to Senate seats.

Champlain’s website houses several resources on how to register to vote, and the Civic Champ committee can be found tabling on campus or in registration information sessions. Keep an eye out for them if you’re looking to learn more about your voting options and rights.

On an even more local level, the Student Government Association (SGA) is the College’s system that represents the student body on campus. Erickson explains that joining SGA or attending meetings as an outside voice can allow students not only to know more about their college, but to have practice in a microcosm of the outside world.

“[They] can make some real legacy changes and positive changes within the Champlain community. So if they want to do that in their home community, in their work community, wherever they go on to, they have practice with going through that process from seeing an issue to learning more and making that change,” Erickson said.

True or False? College students can vote in hometown elections while they're away at college.

It’s true! Want to know more? Check out the Niche guide to voting while away at college.

Haley Seymour
Class of 2023
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