The purpose of the Declaration is to "legitimize" the Shakespeare authorship issue, and nowhere is that more important than at our institutions of higher learning. Students have a role to play, but it is important to understand that because the issue is controversial, raising it requires caution. Many English teachers sincerely regard the authorship issue as settled and unworthy of attention. The Declaration acknowledges some reasons why Mr. Shakspere has long been seen as the author. It never says that he could not have been the author, only that there is room for reasonable doubt. So if you choose to raise this issue, please be respectful; and never forget that you don't run the class. Also, some teachers will not be familiar with the issue, and will need time to get up to speed on it.
One reason why the authorship issue has been intractable is that there is no "smoking gun" piece of evidence. Scholars must digest huge amounts of circumstantial evidence to fully understand it. The Declaration was written to be a definitive statement, yet it is also short and concise enough to be easily read. Now, anyone interested in the authorship issue has an effective tool for broaching the subject. The reasons for doubting the traditional author can be communicated, quickly and easily, to anyone. No longer must one read multiple massive tomes. Just download the Declaration, and then read it. There is safety in numbers. A good way to inform students is with an article in your school paper. No longer do teachers have a convenient excuse for avoiding the issue and asking students to accept it on their authority that the authorship issue is unworthy of your consideration.
Even if you have never voted (or aren't even old enough to vote!), you can sign the Declaration. If you would like to consider doing so now, first go to the Declaration page and read it carefully. Then, after you have finished reading it, and after having decided that you agree with it (if, in fact, you do agree with it), click on "Sign the Declaration now" at the bottom. We should emphasize that we would not want anyone to sign the Declaration without first reading it carefully, and making sure they agree with it. Just as students should not just blindly accept any teacher's word that there is "no room for doubt" about Mr. Shakspere's authorship of the great plays and poems, neither should anyone blindly accept our word that there is. All we ask is that you seriously consider the position we have expressed in the Declaration that there is, indeed, reasonable doubt about the identity of William Shakespeare.
Thanks for taking this time from your other studies and activities to learn about the Shakespeare authorship issue.