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September 22, 2004


Can Professors Require Voting?

An American Literature professor named Merrill Skraggs at Drew University in New Jersey was planning to require that her students vote this semester, but when she told the entire faculty of her plans, she received overwhelmingly negative responses. Her assignment was called "totalitarian" and over the top, and she was advised to just talk about the process of political elections in class instead.

Students were generally less critical of the assignment; one said, "When she told us we were required to go into voting booths, it wasn't a different reaction than when she said on the 21st the first paper is due." Since voting is a personal political expression, requiring that students vote is different than requiring that they write a paper, but students are able to choose their classes and drop any class that requires assignments that they don't want to do. What surpises me is the vigor with which the school objected to the voting requirement. One political science student said "the requirement runs counter to democratic freedoms." Look, undergrad girl, I'll tell you what runs counter to democratic freedoms. 18 to 24 year-olds being the least likely age group to vote, that's a threat to democratic freedoms.

Professor Skraggs ultimately changed the requirement, assigning students to enter a voting booth on election day, look at the candidates, and decide for themselves if they want to vote or not. No students have dropped the class so far.

categories: Education, Politics
posted by amy at 11:59 AM | #