Rollins Receives National Recognition for 2018 Student Voter Turnout

The College received a Platinum Seal from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for its high rate of voter engagement in the spring 2018 midterm election.

Democracy Project student coordinator Skylar Knight ’19 helped promote voter registration ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Photo by Scott Cook. Democracy Project student coordinator Skylar Knight ’19 helped promote voter registration ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Photo by Scott Cook.

Each year, the ALL IN Campus Democracy Awards honor colleges and universities committed to increasing political engagement on campuses throughout the U.S. Utilizing data from Tufts University’s National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), the organization awards bronze, silver, gold, and platinum seals to schools with the highest levels of engagement. Rollins recently received a Platinum Seal in recognition of the College’s outstanding voting rate.

More than 300 institutions participate in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, which seeks to advance the democratic process on college campuses via political organizations and activities. One way the organization promotes a more inclusive democracy is by advocating for higher participation in local, state, and federal elections, encouraging institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship. Seals are awarded based on voter turnout, with platinum status given to those campuses that achieve 50 percent or higher. Rollins boasted a 50.1 percent voter turnout rate in the 2018 midterm election—a 23.4 percent increase from 2014. Voting rates at Rollins also exceeded the national average of 39.1 percent.

The official ALL IN Challenge Awards will be presented November 12 in Washington, D.C. In attendance will be Bailey Clark ’11, the associate director for Rollins’ Center for Leadership & Community Engagement and advisor for Rollins’ Democracy Project, as well as current Democracy Project student coordinator Sophia Allred ’22 and Skylar Knight ’19, the organization’s former student coordinator who’s now pursuing a master’s in public administration at George Washington University.

“At Rollins, students, faculty, and staff understand how voting and political advocacy are essential to active citizenship,” says Clark. “Through consistent collaborations between departments in both academic and student affairs, Rollins has become a place where democratic engagement is part of the institutional culture.”

President Grant Cornwell emphasizes the fact that Rollins’ high voter turnout rate has just as much to do with campus culture as with organizing efforts. Speaking to The Washington Post about the College’s focus on civic engagement, Cornwell said, “One of the things we discovered that gets students really into learning is when they can see it play out in their world and they can see it empowering themselves to make a difference in their world. High campus voter rates are a consequence of the way we approach the entire mission of Rollins.”

Students gathered in Dave’s Boathouse on election night 2016. Photo by Scott Cook. Students gathered in Dave’s Boathouse on election night 2016. Photo by Scott Cook.

Moving forward, the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement plans to track civic engagement through the use of NSLVE data in an attempt to maintain a voting rate that is above the national average. As always, student volunteers will be integral to the process. Participants in the College’s nonpartisan Democracy Project have an opportunity to inspire their peers to be more active and politically informed—whether they are eligible to vote or not.

“Democratic engagement is fundamental to the mission of Rollins and a liberal arts education that creates knowledgeable, involved citizens,” says Knight. “Rollins professors and service organizations actively encourage students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to the world around them. The Democracy Project is one of many ways in which students have the opportunity to bridge theory and practice and make a positive difference in the political life of our nation.”