How Trinity Students are Engaged in the Political Process: Campus-Wide Involvement in Elections

Kat Namon ’22

News Editor

In January of 2012, the US Department of Education issued a call to action which challenged col- leges and universities to show support for academic programs and designed to increase student civic learning and engagement in democracy. As a result, The Institute for Democracy and Higher Education (IDHE), part of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts Univer- sity, created an initiative which took the form of The National Study of Learning,

Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) is the first and only study that objectively examines institution level data and student data on student voting, and shares these findings with campuses that participate in the program. The NSLVE offers a close examination of campus climates for political learning and engagement, and clarifies correlations between specific student learning experiences and voting. Every school that participates in the NSLVE report has 3 report holders, and they are responsible for getting the report out to the rest of the community. The Tripod was lucky enough to receive the report from the President’s Office, and its findings are high- lighted in detail below.

The NSLVE 2018 report, put together by Tufts University, recorded that Trinity had a 30.9% voter rate, a significant increase since the 2014 report, which recorded a voter rate of 12.7%. This increase was not due to more eligible voters at the college, as that number actually went down by 55 students, according to the 2018 report on the midterm elections.

The number of students who voted increased by 358, and the registration rate increased by 11.8% since 2014. Trinity’s voting registration rates, compared to all institutions, show Trinity below the rest by 8.3%.

The report includes other information on the students’ voting data and Trinity, including voting methods, age groups, education level, undergraduate class year, enrollment status, gender, race/ethnicity, and field of study.

Due to Trinity’s increasing voting rate, the college was honored in the 2019 “ALL IN” Challenge Awards Ceremony, which recognized colleges and universities that are committed to increasing student voting rates and wider interest in voter participation on their campuses. The overall turnout for college students reached 40.3% in the 2018 midterm election, a more than two- fold increase since 2014.

The ceremony took place on Tuesday, Nov. 12, in Washington D.C. Trin- ity received a silver seal for achieving a student en- rollment and voting rate between 30% and 39%. Associate Vice President for External Affairs and the President’s Chief of Staff, Jason Rojas, added “We remain committed to working across campus to graduate civic-minded students. While we believe our work is not yet complete, civic awareness is a part of the Trinity experience, whether in the classroom, in the cafeteria, in the bookstore, or in our neighborhoods. We all have a responsibility to ensure our students are educated about the voting process and the impact their votes have in each election.”

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