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Students Sound Off Before First Debate

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The students of COMM 145 (Newspaper Workshop I) interviewed students on Mason’s Fairfax campus earlier today ahead of the first Presidential Debate that is set for tonight at 9:00pm on NBC.

Students were asked what issues are most important to them and if there is anything that the two major candidates could say or do during tonight’s debate that might change their mind. Here is what Mason students on campus today had to say:

Caitlyn Bernard, Senior, Biology, Undecided Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “Yes.”

Top three issues:

  1. Social/Domestic Affairs (“there’s a lot of divide in the country”)
  2. Economy (big social class gap)
  3. Foreign Policy (“how we interact with others determines how we’ll do as a country”)

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “A lot of things, many issues need to be better addressed.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “Your vote still counts… We can’t escape it – this will impact us for years.”

 

Katy Mumper, Sophomore, Business Management, Clinton Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “Honestly, probably not. I’ll watch highlights later.”

Top three issues:

  1. Making sure Trump is not elected (“he is dangerous, crazy”)
  2. Minimum Wage (“$7.25 is not a living wage”)
  3. Women’s Rights (“so women get the health care they need”)

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “Hillary could say something to make me think more of her, or Trump could say something to make me think less of him.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “We represent a lot of the population. This will affect us for years.”

 

Arthi Chandrasekran, Senior, International Studies/Global Conservation, Undecided Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “No, I have another commitment.”

Top three issues:

  1. Environment (“take care of the planet”)
  2. Women’s/Human Rights (“we’re all human – we should be able to coexist”)
  3. Federal Spending (“some [expenses] are more important than others”)

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “As long as they don’t say stupid things… I will feel like I’m being represented.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “You have power when you vote.”

 

Ayesha Gill, Freshman, English/Economics, Clinton Voter (former Bernie Sanders supporter)

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “Yes.”

Top three issues:

  1. Immigration (“[as a] melting pot, we are made from immigrants”)
  2. Health Care
  3. College Debt & Women’s Rights

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “No.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “We are the future.”

 

Michele Lee, Junior, English, Undecided Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “Maybe.”

Top three issues:

  1. Women’s Health
  2. Abortion
  3. College Tuition/Student Debt

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “Education [policy]. Not everyone is given an opportunity but everyone deserves one.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “We need our opinions voiced. [It is important to] exercise our vote to make a difference.”

 

Sofia Herring, Sophomore, Government, Trump Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “Yes, because it is going to be one of the most controversial debates in history. It will be very interesting to see how Trump and Clinton compose themselves in a debate against each other.”

Top three issues:

  1. Taxes (“should be fair and equitable”)
  2. Immigration
  3. College Tuition/Student Debt (“as an out-of-state college student, it is hard to pay”)

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “Absolutely not.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “We really need to have our voices heard. We are the future of America and we won’t always have people making decisions for us.”

 

Anonymous, Senior, French, Clinton Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “Yes, but I will watch it recorded instead of live.”

Top three issues:

  1. Economy
  2. Civil Rights
  3. Foreign Policy

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “No.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “Though the Presidential Election only lasts a few years, we don’t get those years back.”

 

Pat Marino, Junior, Political Science, Johnson Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “Yes, in addition to Monday Night Football.”

Top three issues:

  1. Foreign Policy (“if our aid is cut from countries such as South Korea, our relationships with many countries will be damaged”)
  2. College Tuition/Student Debt
  3. Domestic Affairs (“Black Lives Matter movement and cultural equality”)

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “No. I truly believe Gary Johnson is the best candidate possible.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “We set the standard of living for future generations with who we put in office.”

 

Anonymous, Senior, Law, Trump Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “Absolutely.”

Top three issues:

  1. Environment (“sustainability of Earth”)
  2. Unemployment/Economy (“technology and automation keeps advancing”)
  3. ISIS/Terrorism (“needs to be eradicated”)

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “No.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “It is our civic duty.”

 

Anonymous, Junior, Global Affairs, Johnson Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “Yes.”

Top three issues:

  1. ISIS/Terrorism (“huge foreign policy issue”)
  2. Supreme Court (“they set legal precedence”)
  3. Welfare (“needs to be reformed – the country is being drained economically”)

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “No. My candidate isn’t in the debate.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “It is important to get a sense of civic involvement and realize that their voice matters in this democracy.”

 

Anonymous, Junior, Communication, Clinton Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “Yes.”

Top three issues:

  1. Immigration (“we need a better solution”)
  2. Black Lives Matter (“we need to better address the situation”)
  3. Women’s Rights (“women still don’t make as much money as men”)

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “No. I am set on my vote.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “Because it’s important for them to exercise their right to vote and make their voice heard.”

 

Anonymous, Freshman, Health Administration, Clinton Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “Yes.”

Top three issues:

  1. College Tuition/Student Debt
  2. Health Care (“once we get off our parent’s health care plan, we have to see solutions for us”)
  3. Immigration (“because Trump wants to build a wall and that’s not how you solve the issue”)

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “No.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “Anyone who didn’t vote can’t complain if Trump wins!”

 

Anonymous, Senior, Finance, Trump Voter

Will you watch tonight’s debate? “No, because I have work. It’s not on my list of priorities.”

Top three issues:

  1. Gay Rights
  2. Abortion
  3. Second Amendment (“I care a lot about my ability to carry freely”)

Is there anything that could happen in the debate that might make you change your opinion of the candidates? “No. Hillary is crooked.”

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “To keep crooked people out of office.”

Reporting by: Courtney Boone, Caleb Chrisley, Molly Feser, Alexander Manalac, Anthony Oswald, Keirsten Robinson, and Connor Wilcoxen.

Illustration by Mary Jane DeCarlo.

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