Becoming a Stop on the Road to the White House, Using a University Protocol to Govern Candidate Visits

psc-494-cover_webBecoming a Stop on the Road to the White House, Using a University Protocol to Govern Candidate Visits

Karen M. Kedrowski, Winthrop University
Katarina Duich Moyon, Winthrop University

Winthrop University capitalized upon South Carolina’s early presidential primary to bring 10 U.S. Presidential candidates to campus between August 2015 and February 2016. These events are part of Winthrop University’s intentional commitment to civic engagement. This essay describes and analyzes how Winthrop University developed a campus-wide protocol for hosting visits by public officials and candidates. It also provides best practices

Colleges and universities have many opportunities to engage first-time voters in education and information gathering prior to their vote. Studies show that these early habits can lead to lifelong civic engagement and education. As a part of its voter and civic engagement efforts, Winthrop University hosted visits from ten presidential primary candidates between August 2015 and February 2016. To pull off these events the University worked ahead of time to develop a university-wide protocol. The protocol offered Winthrop a systemic, unified approach for dealing with potential candidate visits and it also helped in distribution of responsibilities. The protocol ensured that all major stakeholders were included in the process and understood their roles. Information on development and content of the protocol is shared in this article. Additionally, the authors have created a list of best practices taking into consideration the many aspects involved for universities hosting such events, including protesters; faculty incentives; and capacity building. Hosting high level national candidates can be a challenge even for well-resourced institutions. This article offers a strategy that many institutions can utilize for developing a thoughtful, efficient approach for such events.

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PS: Political Science & PoliticsVolume 49, Issue 4 (Elections in Focus) / October 2016 pp. 876-879