There are few student bodies in the nation more politically aware or community-oriented than Harvard. On a weekly basis, hundreds of students volunteer through the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), reaching out to help Cantabrigians. The politicians who visit the Institute of Politics (IOP) speak to standing-room-only crowds.
But the same students who lottery for tickets to see Jesse Ventura and John McCain often respond with a bewildered look when asked whether they'll vote in their home state presidential primaries.
In a recent Crimson poll, more than 93 percent of respondents said they thought it was important to vote, and almost 75 percent of those polled were registered to vote.
The same poll that found three-quarters of students registered to vote, however, found fewer than one in seven students registered in Massachusetts.
And while it is more common to find students registered in their home states, many student do not vote there, either. Of the students surveyed by the Crimson, less than 22 percent had voted in a state election during the past year.
Although it is their home for nine months a year, most students are uninterested by contentious local issues such as rent control or the lack of low-income housing.
"You have to ask yourself, how much do the policies of the city of Cambridge actually affect a Harvard student?" says Marc Stad '01, president of the Harvard College Democrats.
Vote and Live Free