Students offer support for WL city council election

February 25, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A student group in Purdue University's residence halls is working to help other students get involved in the first election they will be able to take part in as residents of West Lafayette.

To aid the student initiative, University Residences also has streamlined its guidelines related to political canvassing in residence halls, particularly in hall lobbies and other commons areas.

In 2014 the Purdue campus was annexed into the city of West Lafayette and, in the process, a new city council district was created that encompasses many of the residence halls. Members of the Residence Hall Association, a student governing body for the halls, will be working to create awareness of the new District 3 and encourage students to take part in the historic first election.

“We believe that the West Lafayette City Council election process provides our students – both as candidates and constituents – with valuable opportunities to contribute to the community,” said Barbara Frazee, executive director of University Residences. “Student candidates expressed concern about their ability to campaign on campus, and RHA members saw this as an opportunity to have the voice of students represented in the city’s governing process.”

RHA President Lorrie Newhouse said the organization will meet to develop strategies to increase awareness about the political changes as well as to facilitate student involvement in the process.

"We have three students seeking the District 3 council seat, so this allows students to get involved as candidates and to have their voices heard as voters," Newhouse said.

The group is planning a campaign to create awareness of the new district that will include emails to students, fliers in residence halls and a social media campaign. In addition, RHA will sponsor and coordinate voter registration drives and encourage clubs in the individual residence halls to create voter registration events.

To help District 3 candidates connect with student voters, RHA also is considering options such as hosting a formal candidate debate. To support the student-driven initiative, University Residences is establishing guidelines and procedures for political canvassing in residence halls within West Lafayette city council districts. The modifications also would apply to elections for student government offices.

Frazee said the guidelines require candidates to register with the University Residences office in Smalley Center, 1225 Third St. Once registered, the candidates would check in at a residence hall main desk in order to have access to lobbies and main floor commons areas, subject to time restrictions that might be stipulated for such activities.

Under the guidelines, individual residence hall student governing associations have authority to establish conditions to regulate the time, place and manner under which door-to-door canvassing within the halls also could take place.

"It's exciting to see the student interest in this political process grow," Frazee said. "Annexation created an historic opportunity for students to advance their real-world learning by involvement in the election process, and we hope University Residences can serve as a learning laboratory to develop the passion and skills students will need to be engaged citizens for life."

The Residence Hall Association serves as an overall governing body for residence halls. The association's mission is to create a community atmosphere through social, leadership and networking opportunities in addition to hosting and attending leadership conferences, hosting programs open to all campus residents, and working with campus officials. 

Sources: Barbara Frazee, 765-494-1000,

Lorrie Newhouse, 

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