Keene State has played host to several important political figures, including presidential candidates, in the last few weeks. As is customary, during the ramp-up to primary season, presidential candidates parade through the N.H. college campuses, hoping the garner interest in their campaigns and secure votes with the younger population. Keene State College is no exception. N.H. is one of the most important states in the presidential primary election, meaning that we have more opportunity than most other states to get to meet those running for president. It is an advantage many in the state pride themselves in, turning the ramp-up to the primary into some sort of extra sports season for N.H. The ability to meet with and ask questions of elected public officials is one of the most basic tenants of the democracy we hold so dear, and a college campus in N.H. is the best place to do it.
Despite the opportunities presented on the Keene State campus, only a handful of students have participated in these opportunities so far in the semester. In the last two events featuring Republican presidential candidates or prominent political figures, less than a dozen students attended these events, combined. Unless classes were required to attend, less than a handful of students participated. Compare this to 2008, when dozens of students participated in the election and campaign processes for candidates. The impact the young vote had on the 2008 election is impossible to doubt, but being interested in politics is no longer a positive trend like it was three short years ago. It’s not hard to see why some young people have grown disenchanted with government and politics, but that is no reason to dismiss the opportunity to get to know them when candidates and officials come to campus. If anything, growing displeasure with government and politics is all the more reason to get involved and use the advantages given to us and ask questions.
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In the coming weeks, as the primary draws closer, Republican presidential candidates and other political figures will only try to increase their presence on campus. This makes it that much easier to meet the person and ask questions of the person who may very well be the next president of the United States. I not only hope, but I urge Keene State students to start getting involved with the political process again. Increasing student interest and presence in politics will not only potentially impact the upcoming election, but it will also remind candidates that young people are not a group to be ignored or marginalized.