In anticipation of the upcoming election, and as a class project, seven students in political science professor Doug Koopman’s “Parties and Elections” class have created a voter’s guide for Grand Rapids residents. “I like to get students doing a practical thing. Many of my students were already working on campaigns, and I thought, ‘Let’s do something that will make sense for the Calvin community,’” Koopman said.
The 2010 Grand Rapids Area Voters Guide produced by Nicolette Chambery, Ron Hedgcock, Lindsay Marks, Emily Higuera, Nimo Kimiri, Steve Krommendyk and Ryan Vander Ploeg contains a range of information about candidates for whom Grand Rapids-area voters will be voting: personal information, educational and political experience, key issues and community involvement.
“We decided to make it because most students don’t pay attention to elections unless they’re presidential elections,” said senior and political science major Lindsay Marks. “And we thought if we made it, they’d learn more about the candidates and the issues and may be be more likely to vote.”
The team started with a template and researched personal, educational and vocational experience about the candidates. There are a few omissions of candidates, for whom no information could be found, Koopman said. “The students tried to call and do Web searches,” he said. “They did due diligence.”
At their prof’s suggestion, the team added an “interesting fact” about each candidate—“something interesting that a non-political person could resonate with, something a little more personal,” said Marks.
“He always wears bow ties,” reads one. “She was the first girl to deliver the Pontiac Press, now called the Oakland Press,” reads another.
The students also predicted the outcome of races, another Koopman suggestion. “We decided to add it because most students wouldn’t know anything about the races,” Marks said. “They wouldn’t know how close the race is.”
Read the voter's guide.