The new student leadership of the Institute of Politics (IOP) promised to address the “crisis” of a lack of youth engagement in politics during their election last night.
Around 50 students gathered at the IOP last night to elect Peter P. Buttigieg ’04 president and Betsy A. Sykes ’04 vice president. Other students voted by absentee ballot.
Buttigieg and Sykes defeated the ticket of Caroline E. Adler ’04 and Adam J. Wienner ’04.
In the five-minute speech the ticket was allowed before voting, Buttigieg stressed the possibilities that lie ahead.
“We’re running because the IOP has the most potential of any organization we’ve ever encountered,” he said. “Our candidacy is about bringing the IOP closer to that potential.”
Buttigieg and Sykes suggested strengthening Harvard’s political community through gatherings to watch NBC’s “The West Wing” and by bringing back weekly socials.
“The single biggest challenge is getting the arms and legs at the IOP to be part of the body,” Buttigieg said.
But they stressed internal initiatives should not take priority over the IOP’s national programs.
“There is nothing less than a crisis now in national youth engagement in politics,” Buttigieg said. “We want to look forward, not inward.”
They said their proactive approach would include a national voter-registration drive leading up to the 2004 elections and more debate events throughout the year.
“We want the IOP to be the center for campus debate,” Sykes said. “Let’s embrace controversial issues.”
Voters also selected Ryan D. Rippel ’04—who jokingly touted himself as the “best damn note-taker around”—to be the next treasurer.
Rippel said his focus would not just be on drawing students into the IOP, but on increasing political activity across campus.
“The question should be not ‘why don’t people come down to 79 JFK St.,’ but ‘why don’t people get involved in politics as a whole,’” he said.
Rippel said he envisioned the IOP using its financial resources to fund public programs, such as a national award recognizing civics teachers.
Others elected include Emily Nielson ’04, chair for community action; Andy Frank ’05, conferences chair; Ben Stoll ’04, chair for Drug Policy Group; Brian Goldsmith ’05, chair for fellows; John Jernigan ’06, chair for Foreign Policy Group; Julie Kobick ’05, Forums chair; Jason Semine ’04, chair for Freedom in America Policy Group; Joe Green ’05, chair for Harvard Political Union; Naomi Ages ’05, chair for internships; James Granger ’05, outreach chair; Guillermo Coronado ’05, projects chair; Brad Smith ’05, chair for Social Security Policy Group; and Ilan Graff ’05, chair for study groups.