PHOTO CAPTIONS: A nonprofit magazine, Washington Monthly, has listed Ferris State University among America's Best Colleges for Student Voting. The university's Political Engagement Project sponsored events like a free speech panel discussion leading up to the 2018 midterm election.
The effort to promote civic and political engagement at Ferris State University has been acknowledged by a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit magazine, with Ferris listed among America’s Best Colleges for Student Voting by Washington Monthly.
This inaugural roster is included in the publication’s College Guide and Rankings, an observation of the initiatives offered to students so that they might become active participants in community decision-making and lifelong voters.
Christian Peterson, an adjunct History professor, is the faculty representative for Ferris’ Political Engagement Project. Peterson said he was pleased to follow the lead of Forensics Director and Associate Professor of Communication Kristi Scholten in support of a schedule of events throughout the Fall 2018 semester.
“On Constitution Day, Tuesday, Sept. 17, we took to the sidewalks and passed out American Civil Liberties Union materials, encouraging students to vote in the midterm election,” Peterson said. “Voting by absentee ballot was outlined, with an emphasis on promoting classroom-level discussions of the importance of being active in the political process.”
The PEP also offered screenings of the documentaries “One Vote” on Wednesday, Oct. 3 and “Michigan Divided” on Tuesday, Oct. 16 to spur interest in student voting.
“In ‘Michigan Divided,’ the Center for Michigan and Bridge Magazine collaborated on a presentation that gathered the thoughts of six families from around the state, finding out what mattered to them in the 2016 election,” Peterson said. “‘One Vote’ took a nonpartisan view of that election to portray voters’ experiences on Election Day in five communities. We were pleased by audiences of more than 100 students for these presentations.”
Peterson said that they had also collaborated with the campus programming board, Entertainment Unlimited, for a Free Speech event on Thursday, Sept. 20 that included a panel discussion with campus department leaders, and attorney CL Lindsey.
“Students also held a debate on Wednesday, Oct. 24, where all three state ballot proposals were considered,” Peterson said. “Proposition 3, as it was developed, would improve access for students to participate as voters. There was considerable interest since students were expressing concerns about having to go home and make arrangements for absentee balloting.”
Washington Monthly also credited Ferris for participation in the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement, along with the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.
“Our goals in the PEP were to get information before all facets of the campus community, create access and promote involvement by our students,” Peterson said. “It culminated in a crowd of 200 for our ‘Party at the Polls’ on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. We are pleased to have been included in Washington Monthly’s report.”