e Legacies of Elons Leaders // 32P
From conducting surveys to instructing classes, Hunter Bacot has been a vital part of Elons campus since he rst came to the university ve years ago.
Bacot, the Director of the Elon University poll, has a degree in political science and has taught both graduate and undergraduate classes. When the position opened at Elon, he decided to make polling his career.
Besides teaching a senior seminar in political science and a public opinion polling class every year, Bacot said he is heavily involved in every aspect of the polling process. This includes trying to get students to sign up to conduct surveys, scripting questions, learning computer software and doing payroll.
I usually spend two to three hours a day sur ng blog sites to nd out what the main topics are in political and state government, he said.
The poll questions primarily involve issues within the state of North Carolina and must be a topic that people are genuinely interested in, he explained.
We must ask questions that are pertinent and salient to the citizens of the community, Bacot said. Sometimes you pick an issue that no one cares about. Its disappointing because you put so much work into it and theres no reward there.
Since Bacot took the position, he said he has seen the polls presence in the state become more prominent than it once was. He is most proud of raising the visibility and credibility of the poll. Now, if people want information, they will often ask for poll results.
Part of that is that Im a native North Carolinian and I know how the state works, what goes on where, and what each region brings to the state, he said.
He has also implemented many changes to the polling techniques, which ensure that the process is as ef cient as possible.
These include making certain that questions are neutral, incorporating the ability to call cell phones to conduct surveys and increasing student buy-in.
While the polling center used to struggle with lling the lab with students to make phone calls, Bacot said it is now rare to have an empty seat on any night of polling.
We have to make sure theyre comfortable, because we want them to come back and do it again, he said. If youve done it before, it is a lot easier the second time and youre more comfortable and productive, so its in my interest to have them return.
Bacot also changed the structure of the polling staff by removing the
position of polling fellow a graduate from another school and working with four interns from Elon each semester instead.
This not only keeps the money cycle within Elons campus, but it also provides great opportunities for the students involved to gain experience and build their resumes.
He has seen numerous students fall in love with polling and go on to graduate schools to study it.
Those types of things have been the most rewarding, seeing students move from just enjoying it to becoming interested to actually moving into the eld, Bacot said. Part of what we do is for the students, seeing the rewards and watching the students progress in con dence in working polls.
Bacot said the greatest challenge of the polls is making sure the information is timely.
Because it is survey data, it is time-bound. So people only look at it when its fresh and new, he said. We have two or three days to get it out and make an impression.
Through the information, Bacot said he hopes the poll represents the entire voice of the community, not just the voters.
Just because you dont vote doesnt mean you dont care, he said. I think that being able to give everyone a voice in the process is a tremendous service that this university provides through the poll.
Bacot said that during his time at Elon, he has been particularly impacted by President Leo Lambert.
He has an almost unending passion to make sure people understand their place and give, he said. Where you live you take, so its only natural to give back.
Bacot himself has had a positive impact on his peers, particularly the Assistant Director of the poll, Mileah Kromer.
I am thankful every day to have someone as wonderful as Hunter as a faculty member, she said. He is an all around wonderful professor and a shining example of Elons message of engaged learning.
Though Bacot said he greatly enjoys polling, he would love to someday devote all of his time to working in a classroom. He said right now, much of his time is consumed with the polling process.
The day I dont get recharged after a break is the day I need to walk away from the poll, he said. It could be next year or in ve years, but I like politics and I like polling, so its hard to say.
Story By Caitlin ODonnell
ONE HUNDRED PERCENT APPROVAL FOR BACOT