Central Michigan University Example Campus Vote Initiative Program
Central Michigan University
- 16,000 students
Faculty at Central Michigan University interested in increasing student engagement in the election inaugurated a voter education initiative entitled “Find Your Voice/Make Your Choice.” Forging a broad coalition of sponsors, including several administrative committees, the Dean of Students, SGA, College Republicans, College Democrats and the College Green Party, Professor Mowery and her colleagues set about organizing this project, the centerpiece of which was a six-part, eighteen-hour workshop on political engagement in the democratic process. The team responsible for organizing the project was particularly successful because of the diverse disciplinary backgrounds of it members.
Designed to engage students in a more reflective and critical thought-process about politics and democratic government, these interactive workshops led by student/faculty panels focused on modeling good question-asking skills and teaching students how, not what, to think about the election. Demonstrating the interactive and student-centered nature of the workshops, a session entitled “Spin Dizzy: Presidential Debates and Political Rhetoric” utilized a series of relevant video clips from the debates which students and faculty could view and then analyze together. The three-hour-long workshops enjoyed impressive attendance, some of them drawing over 200 students. In order to encourage attendance, pizzas provided by a local restaurant and other prizes were raffled off at each workshop. Also, student groups were given space at the beginnings of the sessions to announce their own election-related activities. Representatives from the Campus Green Party also took responsibility for providing voter registration forms at the sessions and for mailing completed forms to the appropriate office. Because of the huge success of this workshop series, the faculty involved will attempt to make it an annual event at CMU.
Hope May, a faculty member in Philosophy, designed and mounted a website to accompany the CMU workshop series. In addition to advertising the topics and dates of the series, it also contained an extensive section of relevant links encouraging students to continue exploring issues discussed in the workshops. Sections on the “links” page included: “Michigan,” “Party Platforms,” “Issues,” “Multi-Media,” “Interact,” “Facts/Info,” “Women,” and “Media.” Each link was usefully annotated, giving pertinent information about the indexed site.
Election-Night Open House
Professor of Political Science Doug Roscoe organized an event on Election Night where students could gather with faculty to watch the election returns come in. TV viewing areas with couches were set up in the lobby of the auditorium. Computers with internet connectivity were also made available so that students could track the election results on the web. A large map of the United States was present so that viewers could visually keep track of the states awarded to each candidate. In the downtime between poll closings, there were political games and trivia questions with prizes awarded to the winners. Pizza was donated for the event by a local restaurant. The open house gave students and faculty a chance to interact with each other in a casual and fun way in the context of the election.