'Citizen CUNY' Offers Voter Information and Much More

From distribution of registration forms to demonstrations of new voting machines, the University's CUNY Votes initiative is revving up as fall elections near, registering new voters on CUNY campuses at a pace exceeding that of any New York City government agency

Citizen CUNY At York College, student Basirat Subair tries a ballot-scanner with guidance from
Board of Elections representative Preston Baker.
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Expansive as it is, the voter drive is but one of the many helpful, informative, money-saving benefits and services offered to "CUNY Citizens" -- students, faculty, staff and alumni. These benefits include an e-Mall, special city cultural discounts, tax preparation seminars, counseling and childcare services, continuing education for all ages, and access to libraries, athletic events and performances.

As CUNY continues to stake its place as an academic destination, more New Yorkers recognize the University's logo, take note of its student and faculty successes and are aware of its improved reputation. What they may not be aware of is the full extent of the CUNY community, that they and their family members may be a part of it, or that they, too, have access to services simply by virtue of a CUNY connection.

"Citizen CUNY," a new communications initiative, kicks off this fall to keep the community informed of these benefits of CUNY "citizenship." Updated information on services and programs will be delivered to students, faculty, staff and alumni, along with more permanent or seasonal information, through a branded Citizen CUNY intranet kept fresh with new and rotating content. Messages, advisories and video announcements will be targeted to discrete user communities. The intranet, available via the existing CUNY portal login, will be the University community's primary source for applications and services -- including class registration, office services and job listings -- as well as for access to the array of other benefits available to citizens of CUNY.

The many other University benefits promoted by the Citizen CUNY intranet include day care, parenting workshops and health resource referrals, job banks and career counseling, veterans' services, financial aid advice, psychological counseling, discounts at New York City cultural institutions, information on accessing University libraries and their services, and more.

"An educated, vibrant and active citizenry is essential to the future of New York City and state," said Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. "Nowhere in the world will you find a more diverse and talented population numbering in the hundreds of thousands that share a common strength: their membership as 'citizens' of the largest urban public university community in the nation. Their purchasing power as tax-paying consumers contributes mightily to the economic base. They are at the core of meeting constantly changing workforce needs and at the heart of innovations to help improve the quality of life here in the world's capital. They invariably support family members while pursuing their educational goals, multiplying the impact of CUNY and its constituent colleges and professional schools on their individual and collective lives. Citizen CUNY is about how a great university connects and uplifts people and helps to positively transform their lives."

CUNY Votes exemplifies the University's long-standing commitment to promoting voter participation. Coordinators at CUNY campuses organize voter registration and awareness activities throughout the year, but this year's statewide elections give impetus to the drive. With more than 267,000 degree-seeking students, 260,000 adult and continuing education registrations and 35,000 faculty and staff, the University community constitutes a potentially significant voting presence.

Scores of events at all campuses are planned to encourage participation in the electoral process. Special Facebook and Twitter social media sites have been created to build an online community to encourage students to register and vote, said Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations Jay Hershenson. "The 'CUNY Votes' initiative will encourage students to go to the polls on Election Day -- and to wear their CUNY college colors proudly and prominently when they vote, fostering greater voter participation throughout the CUNY community and New York City."