Students should leave Temple educated on local government and policy.
While The Temple News encourages everyone eligible to vote in Philadelphia’s municipal elections today, we know not all of you have been doing your homework.
“Voters tend to be uniformed,” political science professor Robert Brown points out in Jillian Weir-Reeves’ “Ballot Box Chatter” on page 5. “In Pennsylvania there is not proper voter education.”
Under the two-year-old GenEd program, Temple requires students to take classes in reading and writing, mathematics, the arts, human behavior, race and diversity, U.S. society and world society.
However, under this broad curriculum, no class is solely dedicated to learning the importance of the positions voted upon in municipal elections unless students choose to pursue higher-level, not required courses in local and state politics.
We are conditioned to understand a president nominates Supreme Court justices but learn little about court systems that actually affect us, such as our state’s Supreme Court, Superior Court, Commonwealth Court, Court of Common Pleas or Municipal Court, all of which have seats open in today’s election.
It may be the voter’s responsibility to research the policies of specific candidates, but for university-educated students to graduate without being informed that the Philadelphia Municipal Court handles landlord and tenant cases, the source of so many problems for college students, is unacceptable.
We read and hear about crimes that happen daily on the streets of Philadelphia but know little about what happens afterward, when the office of the district attorney, another position up for grabs, begins to represent citizens in criminal trials.
If the university truly wants to lay foundations for students to grow upon, the GenEd program should include the political science department’s local and state politics course as an option under U.S. society.
It is bad enough if voters do not know whom they are voting for, but it becomes even worse if they do not know what they are voting for.
For some students, their time spent as undergraduates is the last time they will sit in a classroom.
If the university does not take advantage of students’ attention now, voter turnout for municipal elections will remain low, as uninformed young-adult voters grow into uninformed middle-aged voters.