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Whoever claimed that the vote is a citizen’s only voice never met a Simon’s Rock student. Here, it’s hard to tell that just about half of the campus is ineligible to vote because of their age. Simon’s Rock students are part of a national movement that has young people blasting stereotypes of political apathy. Teenagers are engaging in civic matters with unprecedented numbers, and their impact is felt.

In a recent forum co-hosted by The Berkman Center and The Kennedy Institute at Harvard, panelists cited a 90% increase in voter turnout amongst young people in the 2007 primary elections, a boom unseen since the height of the Vietnam War. And for the first time in three decades, panelists found that 72% of young people are displeased with the direction the country has taken.

Generations of underage students are channeling their displeasure into activism by engaging in the political process. Whether or not they’re able to vote is of no consequence to them; they are phone banking, canvassing, hosting debate parties, registering voters, and raising money for political candidates. 

“The externalities of campaigning means that even those without the right to vote can affect the outcome of an election,” sophomore Will Hayworth explains. Hayworth is a perfect example – despite his age, he is actively engaged in the process on and off campus, and he pays close attention to politics. He knows that voting is not the only way he can engage in the political process.

Campus student groups not only add to a campaign’s momentum, they have helped infuse campaigns with new ways to reach young voters. By leveraging multimedia technology and social networking web sites like Facebook and YouTube, students have helped candidates activate a broader political voice. With such a high profile of youth involvement across the country, the days of merely paying lip service to corporate conglomerate-sponsored “Rock the Vote” campaigns are over. As political candidates aggressively employ the use of text message alerts, web sites, e-mail campaigns and web online fund drives, the mark of the young citizen’s impact is evident.

As the excitement of the election fades over the next few months, the Simon’s Rock campus will remain abuzz. “Many of us may not be able to directly participate in this election,” Hayworth explains. “But people here discuss politics frequently and passionately.”