Engagement in campus democracy is important, especially to Zion Riffe-Stevens.
A Missouri State University student and graduate assistant for Paws to the Polls, Riffe-Stevens commits his time and effort toward encouraging people to use their voices and vote.
Paws to the Polls is a nonpartisan initiative to increase voter turnout and engagement on campus.
His effort has garnered the attention of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.
A Springfield native, Riffe-Stevens received a political science bachelor’s degree from MSU in fall 2021.
He’s currently enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program and set to graduate in 2024. Riffe-Stevens believes he’s found his calling and loves advocating for expanded voting rights for all.
“I work tirelessly with faculty and students to promote voter education and action,” he said.
Riffe-Stevens also assisted in organizing:
- Missouri State University’s First Annual Voter Awareness Week.
- Voter registration and education events.
- Educational forums to help bring the government closer to campus.
But that’s not all. He shares his passion for nonpartisan democratic engagement off campus as well. This has led him to Jefferson City, where he engages in lobbying and advocacy to educate lawmakers on the importance of voting access throughout the state.
One in 175
Riffe-Stevens is one of only 175 students from across the country selected for the 2023 ALL IN Student Voting Honor Roll.
ALL IN strives to increase democratic engagement on three levels: civic learning, political engagement and voter participation.
Their aim is to provide support and recognition to best enable colleges and universities to standardize democratic engagement.
“This year’s honorees played a crucial part in registering and empowering student voters ahead of last year’s midterm elections, resulting in historic turnout among young voters,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.
Students are first nominated by a faculty or staff member, then selected based on a set of criteria.
Honorees go above and beyond to advance nonpartisan student voter registration, education and turnout efforts in their communities.
Representing MSU with pride
“I’m excited to receive this honor in recognition for all the work Paws to the Polls and I have pursued over the past year,” Riffe-Stevens said.
Stacey Trewatha-Bach, MSU coordinator of PA special projects in the department of public affairs and assessment, nominated Riffe-Stevens for this prestigious list.
“If Zion is not creating campus opportunities, he’s engaging in legislative research, legislator outreach and voter advocacy actions of all kinds,” Trewatha-Bach said.
“Zion has contributed significantly to Missouri State’s democratic engagement efforts and I’m honored to have nominated Zion to represent MSU.”