Roger Marolt: Roger This |

Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

What does a guy do on the verge of finishing grad school at American University in Washington, D.C., after spending the better part of five years pretty much kicking butt in his studies, serving a term as the student body president, being the assistant director of Campaign Management Institute, working as a policy and transportation intern for the National Association of Regional Councils, doubling up on interning for America Votes, acting as a field manager for Grassroots Campaigns Inc., and serving as a senior strategist for Do We Have A Deal Yet, which raised awareness about the effect the debt ceiling crisis would have on the millennial generation?

Sounds like the kind of kid who’s going to take a little time off and try to figure out what he wants to do with his life, right? Yeah, sure, like a bear looks for a public toilet to use. Some people just seem to know what they are meant to do like the red ball knows to fall at midnight in Times Square.

So Andy MacCraken, a home-grown, bona fide Aspen High School Graduate of ’07 and all-around good local kid, is going to use his passion for and experience with student organizations to launch a Web-based platform hoping to help students organize their causes better than at any time in history. It’s a brilliant idea!

Did you know that there are more than 1 million student organizations at colleges and universities throughout our country? Think about the visions, hopes for the future and, not least of all, the youthful energy bottled up within those organizations seeping out in fits and spurts around virtually every single campus around. These are the thinkers and doers of the immediate future.

As anyone who has spent any time around the ol’ student union knows, the vast majority of these student organizations contain about a dozen kids brainstorming and plastering fliers to bulletin boards, trash cans and even sidewalks around their schools in order to get their messages out. They’re using Facebook and Twitter as fast as their fingers can go. You have to give them a solid “A+” for effort, but when it comes down to the final examination of what most are accomplishing, there simply aren’t enough resources available to have as much impact as most of these motivated dreamers would like.

This is the problem MacCracken contemplated a year ago as the professor in one of his classes was going over a recent test, question by question, of which he had missed none. I mean, the kid even spaces out with purpose. At any rate, he recognized, from lots of experience, the inherent problems of small groups of busy students spending what little spare time most of them have trying to get social change accomplished.

What if, he asked himself, similar groups from schools all over the country had one place to go to discuss issues, combine resources and synchronize actions between similarly minded student organizations to affect much greater impact?

It gets better, though: The idea also beckoned for a platform to allow businesses to get involved. Think about that: It allows socially conscious advertising to a target market of young people whose DNA is saturated with motivation, drive and the desire to use both for good causes. That’s not a bad market to have your name associated with. Can you think of a better pool to find highly qualified employees in? And businesses can get involved in the causes, too, by offering their support and resources.

To me this looks like such a great idea that I wondered out loud to MacCracken whether he has considered that it might be a victim of its own success. I envision major sponsors being credit card companies, for example, hovering around the network luring hardworking and cash-strapped college kids with teaser interest rates and easy terms, getting them strapped with consumer debt to the point that graduation becomes a burden rather than the opportunity most of the kids dream of.

He just smiled at me and pointed out that it’s probably already an issue that many potential joiners of the network are already working on. They’ll get together and come up with a workable solution. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a bad thing. Ha! How about that? The confidence! If you can connect enough people around almost any issue, you can most likely garner the resources to deal with it. I love it!

I could go on all day about this … actually I can’t. I’ve reached my word count for the week. If you want to know more about getting involved with this project, you can contact MacCraken directly at But, you better do it soon. I’m thinking it might not be long before he’s about as easy to reach as Mark Zuckerberg.

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