Rollins Named a Voter-Friendly Campus

For the fourth time, the College has earned national recognition for fostering meaningful and lasting democratic engagement.

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

For the fourth time since 2017, Rollins has been named a voter-friendly campus by a pair of national nonpartisan organizations. The College joins just 234 universities across the nation in earning the designation for 2021-22.

The Voter Friendly Campus initiative—led by Campus Vote Project and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA)—distinguishes campuses that foster a culture of democratic engagement and help students overcome barriers to political involvement. It identifies schools that promote voter registration and voting and those that enlist campus communities as part of their institutional mission.

Rollins was evaluated based on a campus action plan to engage student voters in 2020, how the College facilitated democractic engagement efforts on campus, and a final analysis of campus-wide efforts in the face of the upheaval caused by a global pandemic.

“The Voter Friendly Campus designation is a testament to the entire Rollins community’s commitment to democratic engagement,” says Bailey Clark ’11, associate director of the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement. “Student leaders in the Democracy Project worked tirelessly this year to register students to vote and help them navigate many of the challenges presented by COVID-19, including an unprecedented number of students opting to vote by mail.”

From voter-registration drives to masked-up rally-to-the-polls efforts, members of the Democracy Project worked to increase student engagement during the 2020 election season. Left: Photo by Scott Cook. From voter-registration drives to masked-up rally-to-the-polls efforts, members of the Democracy Project worked to increase student engagement during the 2020 election season. Left: Photo by Scott Cook.

Rollins’ longtime leadership in democratic engagement owes special success to the student-led Democracy Project, which supports the campus community during and beyond election cycles by creating strategic plans to help students overcome barriers to engaging in the political process.

According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, between 52 and 55 percent of eligible voters up to age 29 cast a vote in the 2020 presidential election. At Rollins, engagement is much higher. It was 64 percent in the 2016 presidential election, with more than three-quarters of registered voters casting a vote. And the numbers are trending upward—the Democracy Project’s goal for the 2020 election, whose results are still being calculated, was 70 percent. 

The Democracy Project’s most recent efforts in the 2020 election resulted in registering more than 210 Tars to vote. The group’s 12 coordinators hosted a slew of in-person and virtual events to celebrate and promote participatory democracy while staying safe and socially distanced—from creating videos and social media posts to designing digital how-to guides to inform and engage their peers.

“Receiving this designation is singular proof of Rollins’ commitment to civic engagement and offering an education of and for global citizens and responsible leaders,” says Rollins President Grant Cornwell. “The meaningful work of the Democracy Project is a prime example of our students’ capacity to inspire action in our democracy and cultivate positive social change.”