Founding Fifteen Campus Connections: Elon University

This year, AGF is celebrating ten years of impact with the Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere Program. One of “Founding Fifteen” campuses, the Campus Team at Elon University reflected on the past ten years and their hopes for the future of civic engagement on the campus in Elon, North Carolina.

Elon University has been an Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere campus since the program began back in 2014! What barriers to voting existed on campus prior to 2014?

In 2014, we did not have any idea of our impact (voter registration and voting data) that we can now see by being a part of NSLVE. In addition, we did not have a One Stop Early Voting Site on our campus like we do now (as of the 2022 Election).

From what you know of how things were in 2014, when it comes to voting and civic engagement on campus, what are some of the most noticeable changes?

Our involvement with AGF helped our campus launch and brand our Elon Votes! initiative. This initiative is now the primary campus infrastructure for voter registration, absentee ballots, early voting, and Election Day events. In addition, we were able to launch our Active Citizen Series, which is designed to cultivate the next generation of informed leaders who will help strengthen communities and shape our democracy. This series allows students to gain a deeper understanding of how government works and to develop the necessary skills to engage in civil discourse across political divides.

How has the general campus’ perception of voting and civic engagement evolved since 2014?

Without question, civic engagement is at an entirely different level compared to what it was in 2014. Elon’s involvement with AGF was instrumental in helping create this energy on our campus and the Elon Votes! brand is now widely recognized by students, faculty, and staff.

How has your Campus Team reflected on the legacy of Andrew Goodman, James Earl Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Freedom Summer 1964 over these ten years?

We now have a team of Civic Engagement Ambassadors. As part of their training, we share Andrew Goodman’s story and explain the purpose of The Andrew Goodman Foundation. We hope that by doing this he serves as an inspiration to continue the fight for voting rights.

What are some ways that the Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere program has supported your efforts on campus to increase voter and civic engagement?

This program has allowed us to hear ideas from other campuses. Collaboration with AGF staff to work on how to build up our specific program and what we can focus on. This has also given us the ability to hear about leaders in other parts of the country and what they have done to drive up engagement and participation.

What are your hopes and dreams for what civic engagement will look like on campus ten years from now?

Ten years from now, our hope is that we have set the groundwork for a campus that is very civically engaged and has a consistently high voter turnout. Our goal is also to make sure that we continue to have events, like Deliberative Dialogues, that allows for students, faculty, and community members to have difficult conversations about controversial issues that benefit from open discussion rather than volatile arguments. Overall, we hope ten years from now our efforts to educate the student body about voting and other issues have been successful and continued to grow and evolve.

What are the team’s main goals to increase and support voter engagement and turnout in 2024?

We want to increase access to voting which will simultaneously increase voter turnout. To do so, we are focusing on our Phoenix Voter Card IDs, which allows students to vote using their campus identification. We also have an early voting site on campus at Elon’s South Campus Gym. In addition, we plan to encourage discussion amongst Elon students, faculty, and community members to increase engagement in civic activities through Deliberative Dialogues and Living Room Conversations.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Follow our Instagram! @ElonVotes

Stay tuned as we continue our Campus Connections series, featuring each of our Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere Campus Teams, the impact made on campus, and how they are living the legacy during this pivotal point in our nation’s history.