Professor Vince Bolduc
As on Election Day in the last presidential election cycle in 2012, a team of students from Saint Michael’s College Professor Vince Bolduc’s course in Research Methods in Sociology interviewed South Burlington voters as they left their polling stations on November 8.
All the questions related to current city issues and sought voter opinions on such topics as a City Center, the public schools, a possible arena, affordable housing, preserving open spaces, energy savings and the perceived importance of maintaining the present tax rate.
Also included was a question on voter opinions about the possibility of shifting to a mayoral system of governance. A special section on the airport applied just to voters in the Chamberlin school district. The questions were written in cooperation with various city officials, members of the school board, and others.
Most of the 25 interviewers were from the Bolduc class, though a number of interviewers also were used from South Burlington High School. Results from this year’s survey will be published in a future edition of South Burlington’s weekly newspaper, The Other Paper, which also ran an item before Election Day telling voters about the survey.
Every year Bolduc’s class in Research Methods (SP309) undertakes a survey either on campus or with a non-profit in the community. Two years ago, the class did a project with Women Helping Battered Women and interviewed most of 100 largest employers in Chittenden County with regard workplace policies that might help victims of abuse.
Last year, students interviewed 100 partners of the United Way and asked them about their priorities for social needs and suggestions for what could be done to address problems in Chittenden County. This year’s Election Day poll was done in concert with South Burlington officials from various offices about planning for the long-term future of the City.
Not only were the 16 students from the class involved, but 14 other sociology majors, and 10 students from South Burlington High School. Over the 12-hour voting period, the students asked 50 questions of 507 residents.
As is done with every project, the data will now be analyzed with a computer program and students will write up 20-30 page reports, the most interesting and insightful of which are shared with the sponsor and often the public in the form of news stories.
Over his career, Vince has conducted about 50 of these surveys with the help of students.