Editorial: do not ignore the college vote
Fluff speeches are always necessitated during the early campaign trails of presidential candidates. Right now, 22 candidates have detailed their plans and promises to collect votes for the upcoming primaries and caucuses.
As students at a state college, the focus has shifted from policy to shock value with the arrival of Donald Trump’s campaign. But while the focus on the election has mostly been toward immigration policy, there is a strong group of voters who have shifted their focus to a different candidate, relating to a different issue.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has made his point on how he wants to see college tuition become free, greatly decreasing the interest rates that build up on student debt. The decrease would be perpetuated by the federal government, and he has placed emphasis on making college affordable to more high school graduates.
Now, who in college would disagree with this? But as something that entices college students, it is not an issue brought up by the overwhelming majority of other candidates. The Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton jumped on the Bern-wagon and suggested that the federal government should heavily revise tuition prices, not make them free.
The only Republican candidate who has made any effort for putting emphasis on college tuition included in his platform is Sen. Marco Rubio. Beyond that, it is not seen as a tremendous issue in the overall election.
Typically, Democrats want to bring progressive change, including to the realm of education. The perception of candidates Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz regarding college being a liberal institution is somewhat narrowed.
In the 2012 election, college students preferred President Obama over Mitt Romney 60 percent to 37 percent. And typically, more middle-aged Americans tend to vote Republican, so the chance that GOP candidates would place priority on college tuition/student debt over something like military funding is exclusively small.
The president and Romney touched upon the issue without the pressure that Sanders implemented in the preceding months. At the time, 45 percent of college-age Americans voted. That number shrank to 21 percent during the elections last year.
Talking about college tuition should be, but is not considered, important in this new election. Had Trump’s volatile words on immigration policy not caught the amount of media attention that it has, the chances of college tuition being discussed could be amplified. Between two noticeable Democratic candidates and a large Republican field, college tuition could be the curveball issue that leans toward a particular candidate, helping him or her get into the White House.
With some cynicism, the Sundial Editorial Staff has this to ask: is the college student vote left to choose for itself? It can be argued that the college vote is unlike the “women vote,” the “Latino vote” or the “evangelical vote.” With so many split decisions or even lack of interest, the decisions which college students make can be dependent on those who have the ability to vote and make the difference they want.
Lumping students together can be seen as marginalization; imagine being stuck together with people of differing views. What keeps students together is just that, their status as students. As these presidential elections move into the future, questions on the gay vote or even the atheist vote should be considered.
But accepting the college vote is something that should not be delayed. As with every group of people, let them individually decide unless a broad appeal can be made.