FSU’s civic engagement initiative wins state, national recognition

Liz Iaconis

Special to the Outlook

FSU Votes, a Florida State University civic engagement and education initiative, is being recognized as a national Excellence Award winner for its efforts to encourage voter registration, education and turnout among eligible students.  

NASPA, the Association for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, placed FSU Votes among the top three programs related to civic learning, democratic engagement, community service or service-learning. In December, FSU Votes was named a “Program of Distinction” in the NASPA Region III Florida Awards.

NASPA’s Excellence Awards recognize “the contributions of members who are transforming higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services and effective administration.”

“We are so excited that FSU Votes has received this recognition at the national level, and I am personally even more excited at the opportunity this creates for us to amplify the work that folks on this campus and in this community are doing with their boots on the ground,” said Liz Iaconis, program coordinator for FSU Votes. “The staff, student leaders and Tallahassee community members advocating for civic engagement resources and experiences that reach every single FSU student are champions of democracy.” 

Supported by staff at FSU’s Center for Leadership & Service, the coalition works together through coordinated, strategic and collaborative efforts to increase student interaction with civic education and participation in their everyday experiences at FSU. The coalition has continued to create new programs and opportunities to engage with students and provide them with information they need to successfully engage in the voting process.

In 2020, 90.4 percent of eligible FSU students were registered to vote, and 76.7 percent of eligible student voters cast ballots, a 13.6-point increase from the 2016 presidential election cycle and higher than the 66 percent national voting rate among college students in 2020.

This student participation has earned recognition from the All-In Democracy Challenge, which named FSU a Silver Campus in 2016 and Gold Campus in 2018 and 2020. The university has also been named a Voter Friendly Campus by the Campus Vote Project for the 2021-22 and 2023-24 cycles. 

“I think this recognition is a great indicator of just how much the FSU community values democratic engagement,” Iaconis said. “All of us on this coalition really care about making voting exciting and accessible for the individuals in this community. We want students to go to the polls with purpose, feeling confident, knowledgeable and empowered in their beliefs and in the impact their engagement has on our democracy.”

FSU Votes is a coalition of more than 20 campus and community partner organizations dedicated to encouraging civic engagement and active citizenship among individuals at FSU and in Tallahassee through non-partisan voter registration, voter education and other civic literacy initiatives. These partnerships allow the coalition to reach a diverse student population across all areas of campus.

Beyond regular educational and informational programming in both the FSU and Tallahassee communities, FSU Votes also organizes celebrations of civic holidays like National Voter Registration Day, National Voter Education Week and Election Day with various partners.

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