April 03, 2012
New Hampshire Institute of Politics
Saint Anselm College students Abby Krusemark, International Relations '14, and Zach Gregoric, Politics '14, attended the weekend-long National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement Conference hosted by the Harvard University Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, M.A.
Civic engagement programs and political institutes from 19 colleges and universities from across the country were represented and students from each school were given the challenge of starting initiatives to improve young voter education and registration on their campus.
Students heard from leaders in the political field and were given tools to help engage their peers in greater civic understanding and to promote voter registration for the 2012 Nov. election.
Students were also given two states to research and report on for a national voter guide that Harvard will produce later this year.
Speakers at the conference included: Harvard Institute of Politics Director of Polling John Della Volpe, top political organizer and consultant Teresa Vilmain, Blue State Digital representatives Ryan Davis and Collin Steward, Senior fellow of Legislative Management (at Harvard) Jennie Bowser, former Wal-Mart Foundation President Margaret McKenna, and former Congressman George Nethercutt, along with Harvard's IOP Executive director Cathy McLaughlin and Director Trey Grayson.
Zach Gregoric, Politics '14, said "It was a totally fantastic experience. My favorite part was meeting so many people from so many different schools that all had a common interest in politics."
The program focused on the millennial generation and the youth vote. Director of Polling John Della Volpe believes that the youth vote elected President Barack Obama but worries that youth turnout will be low or even relatively non-existent in the November 2012 election.
Della Volpe also revealed that more college students volunteer, over 60%, than vote. He said that while the millennial generation wants to be good citizens, he doesn't believe they will turn out to vote in the same way as in 2008.
Teresa Vilmain, political organizer and consultant, lead the group in teambuilding strategies and leadership. Her high energy presentation gave students strategies for building awareness and organizing skills that will be useful in fulfilling their voter registration task.
Zach also said he felt "Optimistic," after leaving the conference. "There were plenty of people, who were left leaning and right leaning, but everyone was impeccably polite and no one enforced their views on each other. That means a lot to me, it's really important."