NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Students Shunning Politics, Preferring To Volunteer

May 2, 2001

Most college students engage in voluntary pursuits that benefit their community or do charitable work. But don't look for them on the political hustings. Those are two of the conclusions of a study commissioned by the Panetta Institute and conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates.

  • Sixty-eight percent of students reported volunteering in their communities or in other charitable activities, but only 6 percent reported volunteering in any 2000 political campaign.
  • Leon Panetta, the institute's director, attributes the students' preference for volunteerism to a desire "to do their own thing" and see that they are making an impact.
  • Nor do students lack interest in politics, he says, since 76 percent said they checked on political news at least a few times a week during the 2000 campaign, and 84 percent said they think voting in a presidential election can make a difference.
  • Because students do not see politics as an effective way to have an impact on their communities, only 26 percent of those surveyed expressed an interest in working for the government some day.

Sixty percent of them said they think of government as "the government," while only 39 percent think of it as "our government."

Source: Elianna Marziani, "Students Disconnected from Politics," Washington Times, May 2, 2001.


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