#RowanVotes: Campus Democracy

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Rowan University has once again urged civic action within its student body by joining the “ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge,” a non-profit that aims to increase civic engagement on campuses across America. 

According to their website,  “ALL IN” hopes to “help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, make democratic participation a core value on their campus, and cultivate generations of engaged citizens who are essential to a healthy democracy.” 

Rowan University first joined this initiative in 2019 and is currently one of the top five schools across the country in terms of civic engagement. 

The university and “ALL IN” urged students to register and vote in the Nov. 2 General Election, which will determine the future New Jersey Governor, the State Senate, the State House, and other local governments, such as school boards. 

The candidates in the gubernatorial race, Councilman Jack Ciattarelli and incumbent Governor Phil Murphy, participated in a debate at Rowan University on Oct. 13, 2021. Rallies for both candidates were held outside Wilson Music Hall.

This democratic interaction is defined as “the engagement of citizens in public life and in government” by the organization. The non-profit hopes to encourage this engagement through the institution of campus-wide voting committees and campus participation in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) by Tufts University. 

Rowan University currently has a student population of 19,000, many of whom may be new or inexperienced voters. To combat misinformation surrounding voting and increase engagement, Rowan has urged students to take a pledge to vote and make a step-by-step plan for voting. The university also encouraged students to take a selfie after voting and use the hashtag #RowanVotes. 

Rowan offered in-person early voting at the Owl’s Nest in the Student Chamberlain Center for both students and other local community members to create easier access to voting. 

“The next step in determining New Jersey’s future comes… with Election Day. Each vote on local and statewide leadership and representation, public budgets and other public questions will affect our lives and generations to come,” Rowan University President Dr. Ali Houshmand said in an announcement on Oct. 1, 2021. “Please act on your privilege to cast a ballot.” 

College-aged voters make up a large section of the voting bloc. Voting rates of college students have jumped over the past decade seeing a 79% increase between 2014 and 2018 alone. 

Similarly, voting on college campuses surged in 2020 due to civic unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID-19 restrictions decrease, students are urged to continue using their votes to make their voices heard. 

Even after the results of the Nov. 2 election are determined, Rowan University will continue to encourage voter registration and civic participation in future elections through the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. 

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