Tuesday, May 21, 2013
A Different Measure
I know others who don't vote and have very valid reasons for not doing so, it is there way of protesting and using non-voting to engage people in dialog on various issues. I would contend the latter is far more important to a democracy that former.
A rating system based on how many students are registered voters could lead to a system under which students are dinged if they fail to register to vote, or one in which faculty members are punished if not enough of the students in their classes register. If my promotion, my raise, or even my job are at risk if not enough of my students vote, they are surely going to vote, no matter what. Since the funding for the school might be at risk if not enough of their students vote, there might be a tendency for the administration to fake the results or to simply make up the numbers, just to keep themselves out of trouble. As Dean Dad says, a poorly-organized “scorecard” could lead to people gaming the system.
A college certainly has as a primary goal the training of students so that they can get good jobs upon graduation. But this is not their only mission. They also have the mission of educating their students so that they become contributing and participating citizens in a democracy. The encouragement and support of student civic engagement and participation is certainly a worthy goal for a college or a university. I tell my students that training in a specific skill will help you to get your first job, but that knowledge and expertise in science and liberal arts will help to get you promoted.
There are also implementation dangers, as ArtMathProf points out. If the dangers can be avoided, though, I do think that measuring civic engagement is valuable, and voting is probably the simplest measure of engagement we can use. I'd love to see other measures, too, but they'd probably be far more labor-intensive.
- Liz B