The other day, a student asked me if I would answer a few questions about the upcoming Presidential election and my views. I hesitated, as I didn’t want my answers to be spread around campus or, even worse, published in our University newspaper. As my coworker told the student, we must be careful about sharing our political views with students, to ensure we do not make them feel ostracized or uncomfortable. However, I felt as if I missed out on an opportunity to engage with that student on a whole new level. As administrators who must remain neutral and supportive to all our students, how do we intellectually engage with them about politics and, in particular, this upcoming election? After all, we know that young adults are not showing up to the polls as much as we hope and expect. According to an article in The Chronicle, 51% of people under the age of 30 voted in the 2008 election. Where were those other 49%? Although 51% is the highest percentage in history, we need to encourage more students to be civically engaged and act on their right to vote.
Sounds great, right? So, how do we do it
Obviously, the first step is to register to vote. The last day to register in New Jersey is TOMORROW, Tuesday, October 16. Voter registration applications can be found on the NJ Department of State website: http://www.state.nj.us/state/elections/voting-information-voter-registration-forms.html. Your students can either choose their home address or their school address. If they choose their home address and need to do a mail-in ballot, they need to apply by October 30.
What’s happening around NJ?
Schools across New Jersey are creatively engaging with students on the upcoming election. Here are some of the awesome and innovative initiatives that are happening around our state:
Many campuses, including Drew University and Fairleigh Dickinson University, are hosting debate viewing parties, panels, and discussions focused on the presidential election.
Ramapo College has a First-Year Seminar class that focuses solely on the 2012 Presidential election.
Union County College offers a no-credit course that is open to anyone who wants to learn about the candidates and the issues of the presidential election. (1)
The Princeton University Press blog has been serving as the school’s election headquarters, posting all things election and engaging with students electronically. (1)
Many schools, like Kean University, are partnering with Rock the Vote to get students to register and head to the polls.
What is your school doing to engage with students on the upcoming Presidential election?
The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Youth Vote in 2008 Election Ranked Among the Highest Ever, Data Show.” April 2009. http://chronicle.com/article/Youth-Vote-in-2008-Election/42822/