August 24, 1999
Marvin Center Ballroom
An hour into Activism Night at GW, Rachel Miller enters the ballroom, in search of two things – opportunities and stickers.
“We are in D.C., it’s the best place to get involved,” the freshman from Columbus, Ohio, says enthusiastically as she scopes out the auditorium. “You get to work with anybody you want.”
She grabs an “Elizabeth Dole 2000” sticker and is on her way.
“I worked with all kinds of groups and community services in high school,” Miller says. “If I can make a difference in Columbus, I can make a difference here.”
About 20 organizations set up tables Tuesday to garner student support for their causes. Several political campaigns attracted students, as did numerous community service organizations.
But Miller finishes her tour of the tables a little disappointed, having only received two stickers. She offsets that sadness with enthusiasm over a pile of information she collected. As she spreads the literature on a table, she explains her philosophy.
“I got just about everything from everybody,” Miller says. “I like to know what my options are.”
She then sorts through her paperwork, one by one listing the positive aspects of each table. She smiles at a full-color photo of the White House and starts talking fast and furiously about the AIDS Walk.
“We’ve already decided – I’m like organizing my floor to do the walk,” she explains.
She rapidly flips through the rest of her literature. She says the Anti-Racist Action information “sounds cool” and she will “without a doubt” volunteer at the Whitman-Walker AIDS Clinic.
But when she gets to her political views, she confronts some criticism from a friend.
“I’m a little bit Gore, a little bit Quayle, a little bit GW,” she tells her friend. He stops her immediately.
“Wait a minute, how can you like both Gore and Quayle?” he questions.
“I’m keeping my options open,” Miller explains matter-of-factly.
Although she may be undecided, other freshmen know exactly what they want.
“I went straight for the Gore sign,” says Marla Hertzfeldt, a freshman from Hanover, Pa. “Before I came here, I was interested in getting into his campaign, and this allowed me to sign up.”
Ready to make her move to the District permanent, she says she will register to vote in D.C. later in the week.
“I came form a small town, and it was very sheltered,” she says. “I want to open my horizons and get the most I can from the nation’s capital.”
Standing beside her, David Fabian, a freshman from Milwaukee, nods in agreement.
“I was active at home, and one of the reasons I came to GW was to get involved in the happenings of the capital and politics, and also of the community.”
Both Fabian and Hertzfeldt say they are unsure how much time they will devote to volunteerism.
“I’m going to start out with just a couple of days a week and some days in the weekend and see how it feels,” Fabian says.
Ben Goldstein, an international affairs major from Westport, Conn., says he’s choosing between several different opportunities.
“It’s pretty ideal,” Goldstein says. “Vast resources are at your fingertips.”
Miller, reorganizing her vast quantity of paperwork together into one pile, says although she found a lot, she wished there was more.
“I wish there were more booths here,” she says. “I know there are more internships in this city.”
She says she particularly wishes other political parties were represented. But, Miller says she has no complaints about sacrificing an hour of her inaugural week at GW.
“You get cool stuff; you meet cool people, you help your country,” she said.