Profs. encourage student voting

By on October 27, 2008

By Kara Augustine

With elections right around the corner, several professors at the University of Louisville have had a topic to discuss in the classrooms that will greatly affect college students.
“We just finished the chapter about the elections in my American Government class,” political science professor Sherri Wallace said. “Prior to that, my main goal has been to serve as an informational conduit for students who are registering for the first time to vote.”
Fellow political science professor Dewey Clayton said that he has been conducting polls, watching debates and looking at constitutional amendments that deal with voting in his classes.
“We have been doing lots of things [in my classroom],” he said.
Philosophy professor Avery Kolers has been focusing on the structural aspects of voting when he does discuss the elections in his classes.
“I have only on a couple of occasions mentioned the actual people running,” Kolers said.  “One of them was on the issue of interpreting the issue of the constitution and the law, having to do with the natural born citizen rule for the presidency,” he said, adding that senator and presidential hopeful John McCain wasn’t born in the United States.
Clayton has even sent out e-mails reminding his students to vote and has also discussed absentee ballots, which is a common issue among U of L students regarding the registration process.
If students had to fill out an absentee ballot, Clayton pointed them in the direction to the proper resources they needed. He informed his students about the deadlines for registration.
Wallace has also given her students the guidance and resources they needed to register to vote and understand the elections.
“I am making sure that they know the procedure, what they need to do, what is expected of them,” Wallace said. “I have uploaded information on Blackboard to go and check their registration, to answer any questions they may have, and to view the sample ballot.”
Students have noticed that professors have been incorporating the elections into their lessons.
Freshman special education major Justin Vogel said, “In my political science class, once a week we have a ten minute discussion about the elections,” said freshman special education major Justin Vogel.
In another political science class, freshman Brandon Collins’s professor shows the debates and videos featuring the elections, followed by a class discussion.
Election film festivals have also been held on campus in which students have the opportunity to discuss the elections with faculty.
Clayton believes that it is very important for young people to vote.
“My generation (the baby boomers) was thought to really have been the generation that was going to change things,” Clayton said. “But, I really think it’s more the Generation Y that is getting out, going to vote and really make a difference.”
According to Clayton, this election is very historic because a Black is running as a major party candidate, something that has not happened in the history of the United States.
Collins also believes that race is an issue during this election.
“We need to make sure everyone gets involved and looks at both candidates’ platforms and views and not let one person’s race be the deciding factor of whether or not we vote for them,” Collins said. 
Showing great passion for the future of America and student voting, Clayton has advice for young people voting.
“Don’t just take the word of some news organization. Become informed and then make that judgment for yourself,” Clayton said. “That is what the essence of democracy is, voting and you making an informed, intelligent decision not based on what someone else says, but based on how you view the candidates.”

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