Election on the minds of students at Queens

Disappointed, divided, indecisive: informal conversation with some of the Queens community indicates this attitude towards the 2016 election. This year’s campaigns have certainly been memorable; with iconic candidates, Twitter arguments, and fiery criticism from both extremes of the political spectrum.

In November, Americans will make their way to the polls to cast their ballots for the next president of the United States. But many citizens, including some students here at Queens University, are still divided on which candidate would fit better in the White House. 

The election season of 2016 has caught the attention of many young voters nationwide. However, this does not necessarily mean they have been prompted to participate. A GenForward poll conducted in mid-July found only 3 out of 10 voters aged 18-30 are satisfied with voting either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Nonetheless, politicians, professors and classmates alike are determined to convince students to vote.

Queens’ College Democrats were initially in favor of the Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders. Deneiro Sanders, a junior from Michigan and the current president of the College Democrats, explains that the club tends to lean in whichever direction the student body does. Dr. Mark Kelso, a 20-year professor in Political Science, agrees.  “If we went back to primaries, I would have to say Bernie Sanders [had the most support]. . . I wouldn’t say I see the same level of enthusiasm for the current candidates.” 

However, the College Democrats are now strongly backing their candidate, Clinton, and pushing young people to vote Democrat up and down the ticket through debate-watching parties and voter registration drives. Meanwhile, for some of those on the right, the lack of a college Republican club has been disappointing. 

“I think it’s very crucial that we have an organization for Republicans – and Democrats as well – to get people interested in politics and get them to see both sides of the issues,” says Braden Netzly, a senior from Ohio and a former member of the College Republicans. Christian Braswell, a junior and transfer from UNCC, agrees that he is disappointed but not surprised. “Colleges say that this is a time in your life to explore different ways of thinking yet all they do is shove the liberal agendas down our throats.”

Statistically, voters under 30 are a strong coalition for the Democratic Party, and have been for several years. In a national July poll from the Pew Research Center, Clinton was averaging a 60%-30% lead over Trump in voters aged 18-29. “If Queens students are any indication, I would say college students tend to be leaning more towards the Democratic side,” says Kelso.  

However, Clinton does not seem to be pulling the same amount of energy from young voters as Sanders, or even Obama in 2012 – and neither does Trump. So some, despite the fact that a third party candidate is unlikely to win the 2016 election, are determined to vote third party. Others, in a gesture of passive resistance, are simply not voting. 

articlepictureAlyssa Pacheco
“In terms of participation, it’s always a challenge,” Kelso says, referencing the structural difficulties many college students face voting in a new place of residence. This could impair the potentially large impact he believes young voters can have on an election, and why political activists on campus emphasize voter registration. 

“I welcome everyone into the College Democrats and I believe the College Republicans would say the same thing,” Sanders says. “Our job as college students and as leaders on campus is to engage everyone that we can in the political process.”

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.