When it comes to this year’s presidential election, everyone has an opinion. For UMPI students who are Democrats, this election has been a personal one. They were standing behind issues that matter to them. But they also put their support behind Hillary Clinton during a time when many saw her as a “lesser of two evils.” Through all the breaking news and scandals, the students still had hope for the future. And they cast their votes on Nov. 8 knowing that those votes still mattered.
There was no shortage of issues that student Democrats were concerned about. Katharine Waldron, a political science major and WUPI radio station manager, supported Bernie Sanders during the presidential primaries this year. But she is glad that Clinton has fought for student debt reform. That reform is something that Sanders supported. She also thinks it is important that Clinton wants to establish paid maternity leave.
“We’re one of the few nations left in this world that doesn’t offer it,” Waldron said. “I think that’s definitely something that our nation can work on.”
Student debt and healthcare are issues that many UMPI student Democrats voiced concern about. Craig Pullen, a senior double majoring in psychology and criminal justice, is not officially in the Democratic Party. But he considers himself “progressive.” He also supported Sanders during the primaries. He said that as a student he has often thought about tuition costs and health insurance.
“I have opinions about all the other issues, but those two have been the biggest ones for me,” Pullen said. “If we look at other developed countries like we are, they actually have universal healthcare.”
Daria Wozmak, a sophomore political science major, agreed that the next president should address student debt and maternity leave. Another issue important to her is minority rights. She said that, if president, Clinton should create a task force to work with police stations. She thinks this could help prevent violence from police officers who target African-Americans.
“Most cops are amazing people. Unfortunately, it has just been the 4 to 5% of bad cops that are not good at being in control that are coming to the forefront,” Wozmak said. “Violence is never the answer in these situations, but we keep seeing it. It’s terrifying.”
All three students believed that better change would come from a Clinton presidency. Wozmak called Donald Trump a “wild card.” She has always felt uncomfortable with his negative views on women, Muslims, African-Americans and countless other groups of people. Trump’s comments about women to Billy Bush in the famous 2005 Access Hollywood video also bothered her.
“In my life, I’ve never heard of a public figure like that describing in casual details how to assault a women and get away with it,” Wozmak said. “That’s not ‘locker room talk.’ That’s describing sexual assault.”
Pullen also does not approve of what Trump has done to gain so much support.
“I personally find that he’s pretty close-minded. He pretty much disrespects half of our citizens,” Pullen said. “He’s trying to spark fear into citizens and I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.”
Waldron admitted that Clinton was not her first choice for the Democratic Party’s candidate. But she still supports Clinton’s policies over Trump’s. Even then, she said that she hates the way that both candidates have done personal attacks on the other.
“It has turned into a game of who can find the most dirt on the other candidate,” Waldron said. “When you’re running for office, it shouldn’t be about bashing the other person. It should be about why you’re the best fit for office.”
The students know that many people decided to skip voting this year. But they encouraged all students to go to their nearest polling station and voice their opinion. No matter what your views are, Wozmak said, voters should know where the candidates stand on the issues.
“If you don’t know what’s going to happen, you’re going to be stuck with someone for four or more years that you may or may not like. That’s a scary thought,” Wozmak said.
Many people who do not vote often say that one less vote is “no big deal.” But Waldron wanted students to know that the country needs to hear their voices and opinions.
“Our generation is vital and critical to sustaining the growth and progress of this nation,” Waldron said. “This is our first step to being able to have a voice and have a seat at the table where we can make decisions.”
Pullen agreed that college students should vote and contribute to the country’s future. He also hopes that some of these students might be willing to run for public office years from now.
“I feel like we’re kind of stuck in a cycle that keeps going around,” Pullen said. “It’s time to break that and truly move into the 21st century.”
Like many people, UMPI Democrats have their own opinions about this year’s election. But they know that the only way positive change can come is if students know where they stand. When that happens, all students can go to the polls and feel good about their choice. People will always disagree on political issues. But with any election, students who vote are some of the many people who can help the country move toward a better four years for everyone.