November 14th, 2007 03:19 EST
Boston University Fights Student Apathy
BOSTON—The Race to 2008, organized by Boston University senior Rani Woods, battled the misconception that the young generation is apathetic about politics Saturday and Sunday.
The conference, taking place in the George Sherman Union and in different classrooms around campus, consisted of speeches on different topics such as foreign policy, women and politics, campaign strategy and domestic policy.
“It’s unfair to compare students today with people during the Vietnam War,” the President of BU, John Edwards Mollie Rosenzweig, said. “We’re not as active in protests, but we’re active in different ways.”
The conference was introduced in the Metcalf Ballroom with a performance by the all-female acapella group, Aural Fixation, and motivational speeches and a very brief video address by Elie Wiesel.
“I want to challenge you beyond 2008,” the first speaker, Dean Kenneth Elmore, said to about 200 people. “I’ll put my faith in someone in your generation to lead.”
“We are a generation of inspiration, a generation committed to service,” said the second speaker, Arshad Hasan, the executive director of Democracy for America. Hasan outlined tips for young people, such as do what you believe in, develop your contacts, work hard, get involved and “never undersell yourself.”
“Success follows from following your passion,” the third speaker, Ilana Goldman, the president of the Women’s Campaign Forum said, emphasizing the importance of donating money.
The advertised video address from Elie Wiesel came next, lasting less than 2 minutes. “Politics and morality go together,” Wiesel said in his thick accent. “Democracy means every voice must be heard, so I urge you to be involved.”
Amy Richards, the author of “Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism,” spoke next about motivations for activism. “It’s not that young people are apathetic,” she said. “It’s that they ignore the contributions of young people.”
A standing ovation greeted the next speaker, Senator John Kerry. Kerry discussed his “frustration” with the poor way Washington handlings issues such as global warming and America’s “failed foreign policy.”
“You better believe your generation has a huge problem staring you in the face,” he said to an overwhelmingly democratic audience. “You can complain all you want about how things aren’t getting done or you can go out there and do something about it.”
After Kerry’s speech, the audience broke up into smaller sessions focusing on foreign policy issues such as global warming, human rights abuse, the Iraq war and the post-Soviet Union outlook.
“The students here today are obviously not apathetic,” CAS freshman Amy Baral said. “The 2008 election is really undecided and students will have a huge impact.”
“Students need to be really well informed and see the connection between their lives and politics,” the New Hampshire Coalition Organizer for Ron Paul’s campaign, Mike Faiella, said. “I hope kids will learn so they can make an informed decision.”
“I don’t know much about politics,” College of General Studies freshman, Anne Loughman, said. “I came here to get a better understanding about what really goes on.”
“I hope today stimulated interest not only in ’08, but in other political aspects as well,” the president of B.U. students for Hillary, Alissa Bachner, said. “Everyone can be passionate about something.”