Election Awareness Varies Across Undergraduate Colleges

Katie Reed, News Columnist

With midterm elections coming up, campus has been a buzz as students have been preparing to cast their vote, especially with the help from organizations like Let’s Vote Nova. However, many students have been noticing discrepancies in how often the elections are being talked about across different colleges and in different classrooms.  

Jose Garcia, the Student Body President, is a senior accounting major with minors in real estate and business law in VSB. He was able to shed some light on the nature of election discussions in the business school.

“What’s interesting about the business school is that there are no professors that really talk about the upcoming election,” Garcia said. “I know about the upcoming election because I work with SGA and Let’s Vote Nova, but in my classrooms, I feel like no one really talks about the elections.”

Brianna Devincenzo, a senior in the College of Nursing, shared a similar experience with her classes.

“This year, my professors have not talked about the election at all, which is surprising, especially since I’m currently taking a class called Health Policy,” Devincenzo said. “We talk a lot about policies that affect nursing, but we have not talked about the election specifically or political candidates and what they support.”

Devincenzo also noted that this lack of discussions was surprising to her because in one of her first classes freshman year, her professor had each student look up their local representatives so that they could know who they were and what policies they supported.

“I do think some of the professors in the nursing school talk about [elections] because it is important as nursing students and future nurses that we are aware of what policies affect not only ourselves and our profession, but also the patients we will be serving,” Devincenzo said. “I think more professors should take that lead when talking about these topics.”

Shannon Cavanaugh, a senior mechanical engineering major with a sustainability engineering minor, echoed that some of her classes in the College of Engineering have included similar discussions. 

“Some professors have talked about the upcoming elections as a current event and have told students to go vote, but they’ve never really talked about the candidates,” Cavanaugh said. “The only political topics talked about [in class] have been about climate change and necessary action required for a sustainable energy market”

Each student agreed that out of all of the colleges, CLAS, particularly Liberal Arts, would be the college where professors would be most likely to discuss the upcoming elections with their students. As Garcia mentioned, Let’s Vote Nova has even partnered with the COM Media and Politics Class, taught by Dr. Allyson Levin, to encourage student voter registration and participation in elections. 

However, the experiences of Camille Ferace, a sophomore in CLAS majoring in English and Communication, did not align with this assumption, as none of her professors have talked about the upcoming elections.

“I think professors should talk about the elections because I feel like it’s such a prominent thing that no one really speaks of,” Ferace said, noting how in high school, she did a lot of work senior year in learning and spreading awareness about voting. “Here, I am missing that information and feel like I am on my own to read [and learn] about it.”

Especially given that Pennsylvania is a swing-state, Ferace felt that professors should promote the elections and inform students who may not know what is going on. 

Devincenzo agreed.

“I understand why some [professors] might feel like they don’t want to talk about [elections], just because things can be polarizing and tense,” Devincenzo said. “If they don’t want to create that kind of atmosphere, I understand that, but at the same time, I think they can still talk about our right and our duty to vote and how important it is for us to participate in these elections.”

Cavanaugh advocated for this but emphasized that professors should be careful in how they approach these subjects that are political in nature. 

“I think that professors should talk about the importance of voting without influencing a vote,” Cavanaugh said. “It is nice to discuss political viewpoints in educational circumstances, but it could become controversial quickly. For example, in sustainable engineering, we discuss what needs to happen to improve greenhouse gas emissions and use more renewable energy. It is no secret that tax policies and government regulations impact these decisions, so discussion of elections in this regard makes sense for engineering classes.” 

Garcia was also unsure of having professors talk about elections in classes, in the sense that they could try to influence their voting. 

“I don’t know if I would necessarily ask professors to talk to me about politics because I don’t want them to tell me to go out on election day and vote for a party that I’m not affiliated with,” Garcia said.

However, he mentioned that he wished professors would be open to talking with students and encouraging them to simply go out and vote, such as reminding them of when election day is coming up and either ending class early to provide more opportunities to vote or counting an absence on election day as excused. 

“If [elections were] talked about in that way I would be all for it, but if it’s in a negative way or in a way that is pushy or not really inclusive, I would say no,” Garcia said.

Elections, especially those on Nov. 8, have the potential to impact all Villanovans, so it will be interesting to see how conversations evolve across the different colleges in future years.