Keene State College is a picturesque campus nestled in a thriving community, and while we’ve got all of the ingredients for a fantastic backdrop to a political ad or significant speech, we seem to lack attention from some of the “big-name” candidates in the 2012 Republican primary race.
As a community, KSC is largely involved and interested in local and national politics. We organize rallies, voice our opinions, work for our favorite candidates, and we discuss political on-goings while walking down Appian Way. The off-campus community turns up at our events and local representatives support our student groups to create great working relationships and learning opportunities.
The campus tends to question the lack of national political activity that the campus sees. While we can get third-tier candidates, like Governor Gary Johnson’s appearance on Tuesday, Sept. 20 and Governor Buddy Roemer’s visit set for Thursday, Sept. 29, we lack that which draws the Romney, Perry, and Bachmann campaigns to KSC.
We have the potential to be a candidate’s dream location for the perfect photograph and flawless meet and greet, so why do we get overlooked?
There are a few ingredients lacking from KSC’s makeup that seems to disinterest top-tier national candidates: location, size, and reputation.
While Cheshire County makes a beautiful place for us to live and attend school most of the year, it’s not near the central, heavily populated areas of the state.
Being a significant distance from both Concord and Manchester puts Keene at a disadvantage. Concord is the capital, the legislative territory in the state, and Manchester is the central portion of the population and home to many NH campaign headquarters.
Being located near either place is gold in terms of campaign stops: there are people, there are resources, and there is little travel time.
Even though NH is the primary state, the first in the nation, the land of shaking each and every hand, time is money for candidates and there is a limit to how far a candidate can go (literally) to win a vote.
With roughly 5,500 students on campus, KSC is small. Our student body pales in comparison to those of larger schools across the country, not to mention UNH in our own backyard, which enrolls nearly 15,000 students and our neighbor UConn with nearly twice that.
College campuses can be great places to announce intent to run for office and economic plans, but large campuses are going to be chosen to do so.
Finally, KSC lacks notable alumni or prestige. While our alumni are all certainly doing great things when they walk down Appian Way and leave the front gate after commencement, we’re not regularly turning out high-profile alumni.
Regardless of the academics and other successful programs of a college, when it comes down to selling a political candidate, the legacy of the campus he or she speaks at is important.
Although these are patterns of presidential campaigns, they are neither excusable nor the absolute trend. Ultimately, candidates seek our votes. They require our approval and have to answer our questions before being elected.
As unfortunate as it may be, the closer the race between top-tier candidates, the more places we’ll see them before the primary.
KSC may not see much presidential action unless the race for the first-in-the-nation primary shapes up to be a tough one.
If Romney and Perry sustain a close race through January, we’re likely to finally spend more time with them in Keene.
In the meantime, KSC needs to demand that campaigns bring candidates to campus.
We need to get involved, be active, and prove to campaigns that despite some of our more technical disadvantages, we’re more than worthy of significant participation in the first-in-the-nation primary process.
Allie Bedell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org