Youth activist leads discussion at U

Joanna Dornfeld

Scott Beale, a 26-year-old former White House official, led nearly 30 University students Thursday evening in a millennial-age political discussion.

“Scott is basically an expert on not only issues that face our generation but Generation X as well,” said Jed Ipsen, chairman of United Leaders of Minnesota, one of the event’s sponsors.

Working for the Bill Clinton administration at age 23, Beale became the youngest White House official. He accepted the job knowing he would be terminated in one year when the new administration was elected.

Beale has promoted youth activism since he was a freshman at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 1994. During that year, he said, Congress was considering drastically cutting federal financial aid.

Beale, who was attending Georgetown with federal financial aid money, organized three rallies at the Capitol to protest the proposed cuts.

“We were one of the only lobbies in the country successful against the Republican Congress’ cuts in 1994,” Beale said.

Beale said he felt his first taste of political ecstasy while standing on the Capitol steps.

He said he advocates youth activism to counter misconceptions that the millennial generation is apathetic.

“I don’t believe you get politically engaged when you are 30 or older,” Beale said.

Beale categorizes the millennial generation as those born between 1976 and 1996. He said people who were age 13 or younger when the Berlin Wall fell and people who used e-mail as a teenager are part of the millennial generation.

An Israeli graduate student at the event questioned the difference between the millennial generation and past American generations.

“To me it always seems the United States is on some sort of sine curve,” he said.

Beale said that like the GI generation 40 years ago, the millennial generation is more politically aware than Generation X and baby boomers.

Beale predicted the millennial generation will propose mandatory national service for all citizens between ages 18 and 25 in the future.

Students at the Amundson Hall event discussed issues ranging from lowering the legal drinking age to concerns about Social Security.

Jason Samuels, a political science senior and the founder and treasurer of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said he came to the event to discuss legalizing marijuana.

Approximately 45 percent of people arrested for marijuana use are between ages 18 and 24, Samuels said.

“It really creates a climate where young people are targeted,” he said. “It should be a youth issue.”

Beale continued his mission of youth activism throughout college and after graduating.

He has traveled to Bosnia three times, and during the third visit, he organized voter registration teams for the 1997 elections in Mostar.

Currently, Beale is the Youth Venture mid-Atlantic director. Youth adventure is a nonprofit organization that helps youth and young adults between ages 12 and 20 start their own ventures.

Joanna Dornfeld welcomes comments at [email protected]