IOP Survey: Service. Not Politics Tops Students' Agendas

Seventy-eight percent say they prioritize volunteer work

Harvard students want to change the world and see community service--not politics--as the most effective way to do so, according to a survey by the Institute of Politics (IOP).

78 percent of the 300 students polled said they performed community service within the last year while only 38.7 percent had joined a political organization. Less than one-fourth have volunteered or plan to volunteer for a political campaign this year.

"[Students] aren't against politics in the abstract--they just think it is more difficult to get involved in politics," said Trevor D. Dryer '00-'02, who co-chaired the committee that developed the survey. "Community service is easier and you see more tangible results."


But Dryer said the survey showed that a majority of students still think that politics are relevant.

"The lack of involvement is more of a disconnection with the system," he said.

The survey also showed that around 76 percent of students plan to vote for Al Gore '69 in the next presidential election, compared to 17.3 percent who intend to vote for George W. Bush Fifty-eight percent of students surveyed identified themselves as Democrats, 10.8 said they were Republicans and 23.8 percent said they were independent.

Dryer and Erin B. Ashwell '02, co-chair of the IOP working group that developed the survey, said they came up with the idea for the survey last fall when they noticed that many of their friends were involved in community service but not politically active.

"We wanted to do the survey because people are interested in community and social change but my fear is that they don't see politics as part of that process," Ashwell said. "It just worries me that people don't see politics as an avenue through which to change their communities."

Recommended Articles