Civic Engagement Fellows
Each academic year, 2 to 3 undergraduate students are selected to pursue the Carl Albert Center’s efforts on-campus related to civic education and political engagement. Fellows earn a $1600 stipend for the academic year ($800 per semester). Hours per week vary, with some light weeks and some heavy weeks (i.e. the week of an election). In addition to ongoing efforts to register students to vote, Civic Engagement Fellows pursue civic engagement projects of their own. Past individual projects have included, among others, high school student voter registration, developing a Norman Youth Council, and developing programs to engage women in politics.
The Center pursues these and related activities as a member of the National Campaign for Civic and Political Engagement. The National Campaign is a consortium of 21 institutions pursuing projects in civic engagement. It is staffed by the Institute of Politics in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. To gain a flavor of the activities in this area, interested students and others are asked to read the following summary of our activities for the National Campaign for 2010:
The 2010 elections will include mid-term elections at the national level, plus election of a new Governor of Oklahoma and Oklahoma legislative elections. On the national level, in the wake of the health care debate and given the salience of other national issues, the midterm election is already shaping up to be one of the most important and intensely fought elections in U.S. history. Will the Republicans pick up seats as the opposition party often does in midterms, or will the Democrats be able to reverse the trend and maintain their momentum? Stateside, the Oklahoma gubernatorial race is already quite competitive. A wide variety of candidates have entered the race in both political parties. For the first time in Oklahoma history, election 2010 includes accomplished female candidates for governor on both sides of the aisle for the first time (Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins on the Democratic side and Congresswoman Mary Fallin on the Republican side).
One of the central focuses of the Carl Albert Center this year is to register and inform as many students as possible so that OU students will have their voices heard this election year. Given that a large number of the OU student population comes to the campus from out-of-state, the Carl Albert Center has utilized campus-wide emails to inform students about how to obtain an absentee ballot from their home state and when to mail it to avoid passing primary and general election deadlines. Many of the state government websites are designed without the user in mind, which makes finding absentee ballot information problematic for many who do not routinely visit their websites. That is why the Carl Albert Center mass emails provide state by state links which immediately take students to the appropriate websites for their respective state’s absentee ballot information.
In addition to helping students who are voting out-of-state, the Carl Albert Center has routinely targeted all incoming and current students with a voter registration drive during the first few weeks of the fall semester. Registration booths and information centers are set up in the student Union building and in various places around the campus grounds. Students are encouraged to have their friends register to vote as well and are given information to pass out to them. Additionally, the Center has utilized golf carts and a team of volunteers to provide student transportation to polling areas on state and national election days. We plan to once again set up an operation on the South Oval on election day 2010!
Election Watch Parties
As student interest in the election continues to build this year, the Carl Albert Center will seek to get students involved and motivated. We will host debate watch parties at the Center, and we plan, in conjunction with UOSA, to host a large election night watch party. In these various watch parties, students gather on campus to watch a debate or election results streaming in on major television news networks and to hear analysis from professors of American politics. The election watch parties have always drawn a tremendously positive response from the students.
Pizza and Politics
As a reflection of their commitment to civic education, the Carl Albert Center and the OU Department of Political Science have continued to jointly sponsor “Pizza and Politics” nights on the OU campus. These informal gatherings are designed to foster student-faculty discussions about various topics relating to U.S. politics and international relations. Three or four sessions are typically scheduled over the course of the fall and spring semesters and have been met with large success in years past. Students enjoy having the opportunity to come together with their favorite professors to discuss topics ranging from the current political race to the implications of hurricanes on native wetlands.
Click here to submit an online application for the Civic Engagement Fellows program.
Updated April 8, 2010.