Photo courtesy of youngvoter.org
Fort Lewis College has been a regional focus of this year's battle for the White House -- and FLC students have been the real winners.
First Lady Michele Obama, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, and Libertarian Party Vice Presidential candidate Jim Gray all stopped by to stump on campus in the tense last month of the campaign. Obama spoke on October 10, Ryan on October 22, and Gray on October 29.
FLC is also the common link between the Democratic and Republican candidates to represent western Colorado in the U.S. Congress. Both U.S. Representative Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) and state Representative Sal Pace (D-Pueblo) are alumni of FLC's Political Science program: Tipton graduated 1978, and Pace in 1999.
One reason FLC has been a stop on the campaign trail is Colorado's status as a swing state, says Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara Morris. "Colorado's being a battleground state is fundamental to our being at the center," she says. Morris herself adds to the political expertise of the FLC campus, having earned her Ph.D. in Political Science in 1996 from the University of California-Santa Barbara.
"Further, the Four Corners region is a potential draw," she adds, "since New Mexico has been a battleground state before and is ‘light’ blue to date. La Plata, San Juan, and Montezuma counties also have mixed political leanings, thus our region is attractive to all parties."
On top of hosting campaign events -- and shaping political leaders -- the college has been actively encouraging students to register to vote and engage in the political process. The 1998 Higher Education Act requires all colleges and universities participating in federal student aid programs to make a good-faith effort to distribute voter registration forms to enrolled degree- or certificate-seeking students at their institution. In accordance with that federal legal mandate, Fort Lewis College emails voter registration information and voting reminders to all students and faculty.
The attention from the campaigns has been great for FLC students for a number of reasons, says Morris. "First, it optimized and energized our learning goals and values of creating informed, engaged, responsible citizens committed to advancing democratic ideals. Second, it dovetailed with many classes throughout the college, offering ‘teaching moment’ opportunities. Third, it created a sense of pride in our community and our school."
"Most importantly, though," she adds, "it created a lasting memories for our students, who got to share in powerful 'moment in time' events."
Learn more about Political Science at Fort Lewis College.
First Lady Michelle Obama, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, and Libertarian Party Vice Presidential candidate Jim Gray, during their FLC appearances.