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Just how apathetic are we, anyway?

For politically active Duke students, all years are not created equal. And in your four on campus, you get only one big one; one year, that is, when students cheer for presidential candidates like they're basketball players and even the most uninterested of Dukies keeps an eye on election news. This year.

"The presidential election energizes everyone because it's so big," says senior Samuel Tasher of the Duke College Republicans.

That energy was palpable last December, when Karl Rove, former deputy White House chief of staff, addressed a packed Page Auditorium, setting off both applause and jeers from the charged audience.

Spring semester saw visits to campus by several more political notables. And then there was the presidential primary.

While John McCain clinched the Republican nomination early on, a heavily divided Democratic contest made North Carolina's May primary important nationally for the first time in two decades.

The expectation is that students don't care, students don't vote and that students don't matter. But I think this whole election has contradicted that claim, says

sophomore Ben Bergmann, president of the Duke Democrats.

Students aren't the only ones getting involved. Michael Munger, chair of the political science department, is running as North Carolina's libertarian candidate for governor. "There are counties in North Carolina where parents follow the school bus to school to make sure it won't break down," he said Jan. 16.

Like Munger, students have been galvanized by a message of change in this season's political campaigns. Political groups on campus say they hope to continue that momentum in the fall as they lead the drive in national and local campaigns.


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