Students Join Presidential Campaign Trail in New Hampshire

Posted: January 14, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Stephanie Hay

New Century College (NCC) students participated in a historic opportunity led by Janette Muir, associate dean, and Jim Young, reference and instructional services librarian, during the winter break. For one intensive week, January 6-13, the students attended the College Convention in Manchester, N.H., experiencing a firsthand look at Rock the Vote and interacting with national media.

“This is an excellent opportunity for students to be a part of history and join an increasingly popular movement of the 18- to 25-year-old demographic toward political involvement,” Muir says. Rock the Vote is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that engages youth in the political process by incorporating youth culture into its activities.

More than 1,000 college and high school students from across the country joined each of the major presidential candidates, members of the media, and a wide variety of political interest groups in a weeklong political convention environment. The NCC students attended speeches by Democratic candidates Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Dennis Kucinich. A televised speech delivered by Joe Lieberman was also part of the docket.

Students kept a blog (Internet-based diary) of their activities and thoughts during the week, which can be accessed online. “Yesterday… was a very, very long day. We got started at 8 a.m. and didn’t get to bed until well after midnight!” wrote Young at the start of the week. “Fortunately, we have [Internet] access one block from the hotel. All students were there, burning the midnight oil, blogging into the night.”

One student observed from the Lieberman presentation, “For starters, the senator is not flashy like a rhinestone cowboy and this speech was primarily addressed to a television audience and so the charm faucet was at a slow drip. The content moved swiftly from the most perfunctory background about his years of service into what he sees as the distinguishing features of his campaign. Lieberman does not want to be polarizing and in that respect, he seems to be a complete success.”

Wrote NCC student Scott Wagner, “We began our hardcore, long, exhausting, 14 hour-day with Wesley Clark as our first candidate. The speech was held at the Peterborough town hall, which created a homey, cozy atmosphere…Upon entering the establishment, we were greeted by enthusiastic staff members who provided all guests with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apples, and refreshments. So before the speech even began, the guests felt comfortable.”

Muir hosted a similar course four years ago for the last presidential election. She decided to offer the course again this year because the event was successful and inspiring to students. “I accompanied about 20 students to New Hampshire during the last election and introduced them to the electric world of politics from a very targeted perspective–they were participating in a college student-driven convention, and certainly it raised their awareness of the importance of voting and engagement in citizenship,” she says.

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