Students voted, shifting the focus on issues they care about…


By Angelique Arintok, Staff Writer 

Each and every eligible student registered to vote on-campus had the chance to vote at Merten Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 7. In particular, 300 students completed an exit poll survey conducted by Student Media’s own Mason Cable Network. The data was categorized by gender, age, class, year, candidate, and most important social issue.

The data indicated 90 percent of the students swayed blue, and about a quarter of them voted with civil rights in mind. With this in mind, hearing from some of the student voters first-hand better contextualized the data and additionally shifted it to a more personal and individual level.

Students seemingly stepped back from local-level issues, taking their vote as an opportunity to rise against the current presidential administration’s course of action.

“I don’t agree with Trump, so I know if I vote for Democrats they’ll put a stop to doing whatever he wants,” freshman Maria Torres-Bernedo said. As a voter, Torres-Bernedo’s unhappiness with Trump’s work and rhetoric was enough to turn her ballot blue.

With President Trump and current elected officials in mind, other students focused on issues that mattered to them. Senior Suzanne Abribat and sophomore Khalilah Hamer shared that, as women, protecting their rights for access to healthcare is critical and influenced their vote for Northam. Hamer additionally stated “[she] is not fond of the conservative ways for [tax purposes],” and regarded higher education as a main issue as well.

Another student–Eric Nielsen, a member of the executive board for GMU College Republicans, considered his values and ideals as he voted in this election. He confidently cast his vote for Ed Gillespie, Jill Vogel, and John Adams. On a national and statewide scale, Nielsen believes that “[the Republicans’] economic policies are most pertinent [to him].” Additionally, a push for their win would lead to the economic changes he desires.

Aside from analyzing the traditional social issues American students face, sophomore India Moon took a lesser-known path when deciding who to vote for. Instead of focusing on party affiliation, Moon searched up each candidate’s scandals posted on the Web. In doing so, she noted Libertarian candidate for Governor, Clifford Hyra, as the least involved with dirt or scandal. Scandals were a key factor in Moon’s vote for Hyra this year.

Throughout the campaign, Northam had the support and backing of former President Obama, and President Trump endorsed Gillespie. As a result, each campaign developed a sense of rhetorical associations. GMU Democrats member Terence Stovall voiced his opinion in this regard, saying that Northam’s efforts “stand for unity, and a better Virgina for everybody…not just a few.”

Whether a student supported a Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian, a sense of urgency and awareness was evident in each vote. Students on campus interestingly demonstrated a great example of spirit, both as American and Mason Patriots.

Photos by Angelique Arintok