The Dorm Vote – College Students Mobilize Nationwide

Share Article

With the 2004 elections just around the corner and both major parties catering to the college population for the much coveted Â?youth vote,Â? one unique program is making inroads to reach over 3 million college students where they spend most of their time out of class: in the residence halls (dorms). Started with an idea by a student at Ohio University, the first ever National Residence Hall Election Program is bringing political programming to the halls where students live and learn.

With the 2004 elections just around the corner and both major parties catering to the college population for the much coveted “youth vote,” one unique program is making inroads to reach over 3 million college students where they spend most of their time out of class: in the residence halls (dorms).

Started with an idea by a student at Ohio University, the first ever National Residence Hall Election Program is bringing political programming to the halls where students live and learn. The idea behind this initiative is that college students living on campus make up a large number of the 26.8 million voters between 18 and 24 years of age. “This group of students is a natural target to help increase political awareness, involvement, education and activism,” says speaker and author Dan Oltersdorf, the founder of ResidentAssistant.com, and National Director of Residence Life for Campus Advantage, a student housing firm.

William Tarter, a student and RA at Ohio University approached Oltersdorf in August with the idea to conduct this nation-wide program to encourage political action in the residence halls. Because ResidentAssistant.com has a strong presence at colleges and universities around the country (receiving up to 500,000 page views a month), Oltersdorf and Tartar believe they can have “a tremendous impact on millions of college students” by spearheading this national initiative.

So far, nearly 100 institutions have signed up to participate in the first “National Residence Hall Election Program.” There are a number of resources Oltersdorf and Tarter have placed on the site, but the biggest focus is on the September 30th election program. On the evening of the first presidential debate, RAs around the country will hold “debate watch” programs and hold a facilitated discussion afterwards, with sample discussion questions provided on the website.

Oltersdorf and Tarter hope this initiative will help to “get out the vote” among the college student population. In addition to promoting the September 30 program, the site offers resources and programming options online including an online voter registration tool (through Rock the Vote), educational flyers about student voting rights, and educational bulletin boards. RAs are also able to post pictures from the events they host.

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Dan Oltersdorf