Jackets Engaged co-director argues for asynchronous classes on Election Day

Student Senate passed a resolution of opinion as part of an ongoing push by sophomore Hannah Dodson to make classes on federal election days asynchronous.

With a nearly full audience in attendance at the Quarry Room on Tuesday, Feb. 3, the BW Student Senate voted on a resolution of opinion as part of an ongoing attempt to change classes on federal election days to be fully asynchronous, with the exception of labs and once-a-week classes.    

Sophomore neuroscience major Hannah Dodson, a Brain Fellow and co-director of the on-campus civic engagement group Jackets Engaged, brought the issue to Student Government and appeared over video during Tuesday’s session to make her case for the resolution which, while non-binding, would serve as a recommendation to the University administration.   

“My work with Jackets Engaged and with the Brain Center through programs such as Brain Fellows has allowed me to see a major hindrance in getting students to be active in our country’s democratic process,” Dodson said.   

The hindrance, Dodson said, is classes being held on election days “when students are already busy.”   

Dodson argued that asynchronous classes would give students time to vote, or potentially be involved even further in the democratic process, such as volunteering as a poll worker.  

A survey, also made by Dodson, asked a series of questions to students in an attempt to gauge how having asynchronous classes on election day would help. Dodson reported those results in her video presentation to Student Government.    

The survey found that 85 percent of student respondents reported that they would be “affected positively” by holding classes asynchronously.   

“I have gathered many personal stories from students who could not vote in the last election cycle because of their classes,” Dodson said.   

After Dodson’s video concluded, the Student Senate conducted a roll call vote in which the resolution was passed with the Senate voting unanimously in favor.   

While the resolution has passed through the Student Senate, it still has several hurdles before it becomes University policy.   

In an interview with The Exponent, Dodson laid out her next steps in her effort to convince Baldwin Wallace to implement the reccomendation, including bringing a resolution at an upcoming meeting with the Faculty Senate.  

“Hopefully, they do [vote for it], and then I will be taking it to the Provost,” Dodson said.    

While Dodson is currently working to make voting more accessible to BW students, a new state law regarding voting was passed in January that could make the process more difficult. Along with other new rules, Ohioans must now bring state identification to vote at the polls without any previously allowed exceptions. Previously, voters who did not have official state I.D.s could provide a different type of identification, like a bank statement.  

Dodson told The Exponent that her survey found that the tightened identification requirements may be a barrier for BW students.  

“A lot of students actually said in the response to my survey, they mentioned that they don’t have the right form of ID,” Dodson said. “And so I do think it is a hindrance in voting.”