This election season, New College students are more prepared than ever to showcase their award-winning civic engagement.
On Monday (the day before the November 2 Election Day), New College reported that student voting on campus had increased significantly in last year’s presidential election (rising to 82.1 percent in 2020 from 74.6 percent in 2016). The uptick is part of a nationwide trend among college students, and New College intends to build on that momentum.
“I’m really proud of the students here at New College as we continue to maintain high voter registration and voting rates,” said Jada McNeill, the assistant director of New College’s Office of Student Activities & Campus Engagement (SA[u]CE). “I’m looking forward to continuing this work for the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.”
New College has been applauded over the years for having a high—and ever-increasing—student voter turnout. To continue encouraging this participation, McNeill and the SA[u]CE office staff created a Voting Information Center, and they launched the NCF VOTE voter engagement initiative last year.
New College received national accolades from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for its high level of student voting during the 2018 election (nearly two-thirds of students voted). The College also earned a platinum seal from ALL IN for achieving a student voting rate above 50 percent, as well as three “Best in Class Awards” for the highest voting rate among all participating small, public, four-year institutions.
“Our students are civically engaged in the political process,” said New College President Patricia Okker. “Their impressive voting record reflects their commitment to sustaining our nation’s democracy now and in the future.”
Across the country, college students in general are proving to be more politically active, according to a recent report from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education (IDHE)—the creators of the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE).
The report revealed that the college student voting rate rose nationally from 52 percent in 2016 to 66 percent in 2020. This 14-point increase outpaced that of all Americans (which jumped six percentage points from 61 to 67 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau).
“That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning,” said IDHE Director Nancy Thomas. “We attribute this high level of participation to many factors, including student activism on issues such as racial injustice, global climate change and voter suppression, as well as increased efforts by educators to reach students and connect them to the issues and to voting resources.”
IDHE’s NSLVE is the nation’s largest study of college and university student voting. Institutions must opt in to the study, and nearly 1,200 campuses of all types (community colleges, research universities, minority-serving and women’s colleges, state universities and private institutions) participate. The dataset reflects all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and includes 49 of the nation’s 50 flagship schools. IDHE uses de-identified student records to ensure student privacy. The 2020 dataset is robust, with 8,880,700 voting-eligible students representing 1,051 colleges and universities.
New College’s rising numbers, as reflected in the report, “show that our students are actively engaged in the democratic process,” McNeill said.
For more information on New College’s voting resources, visit ncf.edu/campus-life/voting-information-center.
Abby Weingarten is the senior editor in the Office of Communications & Marketing.