Political Persuasion

by Katharine Reece MFA ’12

Political Play

Peer pressure is the best way to get people to vote, says political scientist and Columbia University professor Donald Green, who spoke on campus in October. In his research, Green sent people postcards telling them that after the election, their neighbors would be informed whether or not they had voted. People who received the cards were much, much more likely to go to the polls.

Green’s was just one of many political insights shared on campus during the fall semester, thanks to an election lecture series organized by politics faculty member Sam Abrams. Other guests included David Westin, who was president of ABC News for more than 10 years, and Chris Hayes, a popular MSNBC talk-show host and political pundit. Abrams, who says he tends to see the legitimate points on all sides of an argument, organized the series to expose students to a variety of perspectives on the issues at stake.

Thankfully, as Abrams was well aware, no shaming was needed to get SLC students to participate in the election. Students volunteered at phonathons on campus, did get-out-the-vote canvassing in Pennsylvania, and engaged in debate-viewing parties in packed rooms across campus.

On election night, about 600 students gathered under the big tent on Westlands Lawn, where three screens glowed bright: MSNBC on the left, CNN in the middle, and Fox News on the right. The crowd consumed 195 large pizzas and 18 six-foot subs, proving that regardless of political opinions, there are still some things that can bring us all together.