Ask your classmates and friends about their views on the candidates, who they find most appealing and the issues that they find most important. Remind them to vote!
Keep an eye out for opportunities to engage on-campus regarding the various political parties, voter registration efforts, or even election viewing parties!
There are a number of politically-oriented student organizations on campus, many of which are always open to new members. Try going to one of their meetings to learn more and to get involved! Political organizations can be searched for on Presence.
Just because you might not be eligible to vote doesn’t mean that you can’t encourage others to exercise their civic rights! Join our peer-to-peer networking initiative by becoming an Election Ambassador today. Get trained on how to share nonpartisan information about voting and the elections with your peers and walk through completing the Pledge to Vote form.
If you choose to engage off-campus, given the current climate, while you are engaging in political discourse or activism we encourage students to be mindful of St. Olaf College policies, immigration regulations regarding your status, and U.S laws both criminal and civil. Violations of these laws and policies, or perceived violations (being in the wrong place at the wrong time) can potentially result in your inability to continue your studies at St. Olaf College.
For students whose immigration status is sensitive, some off-campus engagement activities can be problematic for example, canvassing, or any activity where you would need to register with identification documentation, could expose your status in an unsafe way.
The US Federal Elections Commission limits participation by foreign nationals. “Even though a foreign national cannot make campaign contributions or expenditures, he or she can serve as an uncompensated volunteer for a campaign or political party. However, the individual may not serve in a decision-making capacity within the committee. For example, a foreign national is allowed to attend campaign strategy meetings and events, but may not be involved in the management of the committee.”
All St. Olaf College international students are required to maintain F-1 status while in the U.S. To maintain F-1 status, students must be enrolled full-time, be making progress towards completion of their degree, and follow all F-1 rules and regulations.
Unpaid engagement opportunities like volunteering should be considered carefully as it could impact future visa applications. Whenever possible students are strongly encouraged to consider Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization.
It is a common misperception that if you are not receiving payment, you are just “volunteering” and not really employed. However, this is a complicated area involving both immigration regulations and employment law. It is your responsibility to be aware of the relevant regulations and laws that pertain to your activities in the United States.
What is “volunteering”?
A “volunteer” is “individual who performs hours of service . . . for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered.” (29 C.F.R.553.101). Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a person may not volunteer services for for-profit private sector employers.
To be considered a volunteer, the work performed by the individual must meet the following criteria:
F-1 students do not need employment authorization for opportunities that meet the criteria above. However, international students are encouraged to discuss any off-campus opportunities with the Assistant Director of International Engagement to insure they fully understand the regulations and risks involved.