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SFSU students rule at the polls

March 4, 2005

Photo of SFSU students waiting in line to vote in the Nov. 2 electionTurnout at last year's presidential election proved once again that the San Francisco State student body is among the most politically committed student bodies in the United States.

Eighty-nine percent of SFSU students polled said they voted in the last presidential election. The national average, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), was 77 percent.

President Robert A. Corrigan, whose office commissioned the SFSU survey, is delighted with the results but not surprised. "Good voter turnout just doesn't happen. We make it happen." He notes that events like local candidate nights, get-out-the-vote rallies and voter registration of students by students is "a long-standing tradition on our campus."

The CIRCLE results were based on a phone survey of 1,200 students across the U.S. The survey of SFSU students was conducted by the Public Research Institute (PRI), which provides data-collection, analysis and consultation to Bay Area agencies and businesses. PRI based its findings on 581 responses to its survey sent via e-mail to SFSU students shortly after the Nov. 3 election.

Questions regarding attitudes about the effectiveness of the democratic process were also included in the PRI survey. Sixty percent of SFSU students disagreed with the statement, "People like me don't have any say about what government does." Leading reasons for voting were "It's my responsibility" and "I'm voting against a specific candidate."

The survey also found that civic involvement of SFSU students is not limited to voting. Sixty percent of the students polled said that they participate in other community activities as well. More than one-third take part in volunteer community service activities at least once a month. Sixteen percent participate in political, governmental or issue-oriented organizations and 5 percent have participated in political campaigns. More than half of the SFSU students polled by PRI, which is based at SFSU, said that they have attended political rallies or demonstrations.

A study conducted in 2004 by Harvard University and the Chronicle of Higher Education found that SFSU is one of the leading campuses in the U.S. for effectively promoting voter participation among students. This year, voter turnout by SFSU students was 32 percent higher than in the 2000 presidential election.

-- Denize Springer
Photo: Lui Gino De Grandis


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Last modified March 4, 2005 by University Communications