Liberal arts student starts first League of Women Voters collegiate chapter

Despite its name, the League of Women Voters is open to everyone, regardless of gender. The goal of the organization is to increase voter turnout among students. Sarabeth Bowmaster will be the first president of the collegiate chapter at Penn State. Credit: Emilee Spokus / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The first collegiate chapter of the national League of Women Voters will be coming to Penn State, thanks to first-year student Sarabeth Bowmaster. The political science and women’s studies major will serve as president of the organization. Bowmaster, a Paterno Fellow, is passionate about getting students to vote, and she credits her majors with influencing her decision to start the new chapter at Penn State.

“The political science major has allowed me to learn more about the logistics and importance of voting,” said Bowmaster. “My women’s studies major has given me historical context to the importance of encouraging everyone to vote and the impact that marginalized people can make with their votes.”

Bowmaster said she believes that voting is important for students because this generation will be affected the most by incoming politicians and policy changes.

Despite its name, the League of Women Voters is open to everyone, regardless of gender. The overarching goal of the organization is to increase the voting percentage from 36 percent in 2019 to 50 percent in 2020 by giving students factual, unbiased information about election candidates to aid their informed decisions.

Bowmaster said, “We hope to raise the campus voting percentage by instructing students on how to register and how to find their polling location, giving them non-partisan information guides, reminding students of the importance of their vote and when to vote, and more.”

To ensure that information provided is accurate and non-partisan, Penn State’s League of Women Voters will collaborate with the local, state and national chapters.

As well as providing information about candidates, the organization will also teach students how to find accurate information on their own. The League of Women Voters will be doing this for all students, not just members of the organization. Bowmaster said she hopes to create a voter guide for Penn State students and has plans to evolve the League of Women Voters.

“Eventually, we hope to help offices on campus have readily available political and voter guides,” she said. “As we grow and begin working on projects, we will simultaneously be focusing on increasing student voting and student political knowledge.”

The chapter at Penn State will be operational by the start of the fall 2020 semester — just in time for the presidential election.

Bowmaster was recently invited to join the steering committee that oversees the College of the Liberal Arts’ theme for 2020, "Moments of Change: A Century of Women’s Activism." For the second time, the College of the Liberal Arts has chosen a theme around which it will plan courses, lectures, presentations and events. Starting this spring semester, the college will examine the impact of the past century of women’s activism. Because of Bowmaster’s involvement with the League of Women Voters, she will serve as a crucial member of the committee.

To learn more about students who are Change Makers in the College of the Liberal Arts, visit

Last Updated March 17, 2020