Congratulations to the hard-working students of the School of Mass Communications and VCU’s ASPiRE program for winning the Democracy Cup competition held by the Virginia Campus Election Engagement Project. The award recognizes efforts to increase electoral engagement on college campuses. The Campus Election Engagement Project worked with more than 750 colleges and universities nationwide in the 2012 election. VCU won one of four winners in Virginia; the other schools were Mary Baldwin College, George Mason University and Virginia Wesleyan College. VCU won for “best communication campaign.”
VCU’s entry was a collaborative effort of Marcus Messner and Jeff South’s “Social Media and the Presidential Race” class and their VCU Votes campaign, the Honors College, and the ASPiRE Program’s turn-out-the-vote project. Professor South coordinated VCU’s submission to this statewide competition. Part of the submission was a student video that showcases the efforts of numerous campus groups (especially the “Ram The Vote” coalition), individual students and faculty members in registering and informing voters — not only on campus but beyond. The entry showed that the number of votes cast in the four polling precincts that include VCU dormitories and other student housing increased 45 percent from the 2008 presidential election to the 2012 election.
From the Press Release from the Campus Engagement Project:
….In Richmond, Jackie Smith-Mason led Virginia Commonwealth University’s team. Professors Jeff South and Marcus Messner offered a communications class in which students from the Honors College used their mascot to encourage their peers to register to vote and get engaged with the slogan, Uncle Ram Wants You. Students also wrote issue briefs and posted them to their social media sites created as a part of this class. Through the work of ASPiRE Professor Nannette Bailey and the student efforts of Symone Simmons, the education campaign did not just reach campus, but extended into the Mosby community, working alongside local residents.”
Faculty and students from Mass Comm and ASPiRE received the Democracy Cup Award during the Active Citizens Conference in Williamsburg on February 16, 2013.