October 1, 2004
University of Maine at Fort Kent President Richard Cost recently joined with other leaders of higher education from around the state to pledge the support of the state's northernmost campus toward a statewide initiative aimed at encouraging student civic participation.
Maine's "Promote the Vote" is an initiative launched this summer by the Secretary of State's office aimed at energizing, informing and involving more young people (ages 18-24) in the election process than ever before.
To lend their efforts behind the cause, Cost, University of Maine System Chancellor Joseph Westphal, and ten other public higher education officials from throughout Maine joined Maine Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky at a first of its kind signing ceremony in Bangor recently to officially endorse voter education and registration initiatives.
"The Secretary of State's office is pleased to partner with the New Voters Project, Maine Campus Compact and higher education institutions across the state to implement the most comprehensive voter outreach initiative in Maine's history, "said Secretary Gwadowsky.
The New Voters Project of the "Promote the Vote" effort, of which Cost has pledged UMFK's support, is one of two current initiatives on campus aimed at encouraging civic engagement.
The campus is also an involved and active partner in the "American Democracy Project", which targets undergraduates enrolled at institutions that are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
The ADP project grew out of a concern about decreasing rates of participation in the civic life of America in voting, in advocacy, in local grassroots associations, and in other forms of civic engagement that are necessary for the vitality of our democracy.
"UMFK is pleased to be involved in two such beneficial programs. We want our students to be aware of the issues that affect them, and how they can be involved members of society," said Cost. "It is critically important that our students and all young people become involved. Education plays a key role in helping people to become informed and engaged," said Cost.
The UMFK leader highlighted projects being planned on the Fort Kent campus, including debates, speeches and a voter registration drive, all aimed at enhancing awareness and encourage involvement.
As part of this Promote the Vote initiative, the Secretary of State's office in cooperation with the New Voters Project and Maine Campus Compact is providing voter registration applications, voting guides and absentee balloting brochures, as well as best practices information and other resources to all Maine colleges and universities.