New England College readies College Convention ’08

As the political campaigning by presidential hopefuls begins to intensify, faculty members and students at New England College are putting the finishing touches on a program designed for college and high school students that will give them a firsthand experience with the workings of democracy.

Scheduled prior to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, College Convention 2008 is designed to bring candidates, media personalities, political analysts and activists together in a convention-like setting that will allow participants to get to know the people, issues, and process of this historic election cycle.

College Convention 2008, to be held Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 at the Radisson Hotel Manchester, is jointly sponsored by New England College, Campus Compact for New Hampshire, Project Pericles, The New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation and Youth Venture.

The idea for convention originated during the 2000 presidential election when students sought an opportunity to take advantage of the frequent visits of presidential candidates and the rich traditions surrounding New Hampshire’s political history, said Wayne Lesperance, associate professor of political science at the college and organizer of the convention.

He said the underlying concept was to encourage participants to become knowledgeable and involved in the political process and to inspire a long term interest in civic engagement. The first convention held in 2004 brought together nearly 1,000 high school and college students from around the country.

“College Convention traces its roots to student involvement and continues to be all about the students,” said Lesperance. “The programming has appeal to students in just about every discipline, from political science and history to education, business, social science and communications. This is a way for students to take what they are learning in the classroom and to apply it to a real-life situation.”

Activities planned for the four-day event include presentations by presidential candidates, surrogates and staff members, panel discussions and issues forums. A special evening is planned to raise awareness about the continuing need for hurricane relief efforts for New Orleans and will include a performance by the Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet.

For more information, contact Lesperance at