Students talk issues as election nears

As the election approaches, students at Seattle Pacific University weighed in on what issues are most important to them when deciding which candidate and ballot measures will win their vote.

“As a college student, I want security that my degree won’t put me into debt permanently and that I will have a job I actually enjoy that helps pay off my student loans,” said senior Franki McDaniel.

The Huffington Post reported that 80 percent of student voters agree that “government investments in education are essential to growing the economy.”

Students interviewed said the main issues they are paying attention to are student loan debt, women’s rights and equal rights for same-sex couples.

Some students will be hitting the booths for a second time, while others will be experiencing the election season for the first time.

“I feel good about voting [for the first time],” sophomore Micah Bovenkamp said. “I’m glad I can have a say in who becomes the next leader of our country.”

Young voters have been making a more noticeable impact in the presidential elections since 1992, when the Center for Research of Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) recorded an increase in young voter turnout starting with the 1984 election.

“It was my first time voting [in 2008], and it was really exciting,” McDaniel said. “It was such a historical election process, so to know I had some influence was really empowering.”

McDaniel said women’s rights are most important for her as she makes decisions on who and what to vote for.

“I feel the topic of women’s rights always comes up, but somehow doesn’t get addressed, and we are humans, too,” McDaniel said. “I want some action executed from our next [continuing] President.”

“[Women’s rights] are really important to me,” senior Tia Berg said. “I’m going to need someone who actually has a plan for this.”

Specifically in Washington state, many students have shown their support for Referendum 74, which will grant same-sex couples the right to marry.

“I personally don’t feel that I have the right to tell other people that how they are living is wrong, because I have my own faults,” sophomore Devon Criswell said. “At the same time, as a Christian, I feel that marriage is a religious act, so I’m kind of torn.”

On Friday, President Obama spoke to young voters in an MTV interview, saying that we have to “go directly to the source,” and tell colleges and universities that they’ve “got to work on cutting tuition.”

Obama also suggested community college as a less expensive route, as some occupations don’t require a four-year educational degree.

Colleges and universities have also encouraged students to vote.

The University of Washington and the Seattle Times have partnered in creating the “UW Election Eye,” which is an “on-the-ground blog about the 2012 election season, as seen through the eyes of UW students and faculty.”

SPU also held two events where the debates were viewed live, followed by a discussion.

Although many media sources are arguing that the younger vote has slightly diminished since 2008, students are still looking forward to casting their ballot.

“I’m always excited to vote,” McDaniel said. “As a woman and a minority, historically it’s been a long road to finally be able to have the choice to do this, so anytime I get to vote, I look forward to it.”

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Title: Students talk issues as election nears | Author: KALIE NELSON | Section: News | Published Date: 2012-10-31 | Internal ID: 8379