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What’s Important to Mason Students in 2017?

Both organizations worked together to host a Rock the Vote event in October.

Article by: Mahogani Harper

Interviews conducted by: Sabrina Acerra, Kayla Acheson, Huong Cao, Ressurrection Graves, Kime Howard, Grace Huang, Jennifer Squires, and Bryce Valliere.

The students of COMM 145 (Newspaper Workshop I) interviewed students on Mason’s Fairfax campus ahead of the Virginia gubernatorial election on Tuesday, November 7, 2017.

Student interview subjects were asked about their thoughts on this year’s election and what issues were informing their political decisions. After reviewing their responses collectively, the concerns and priorities most important to Mason students share a common motivation regardless of party — genuine desire for a better future.

There are many reasons why college students don’t or can’t vote, but there are just as many reasons why they do. The consequences of Election 2016 have inspired many millennials to vote in their state and local elections, even in off-year contests like 2017. If unable or unwilling to vote, young people are still getting politically active by supporting the people they want in office as volunteers or organizers at the grassroots level.

Just like their future in this country, college students are realizing more than ever that their votes do matter. Their vote is the future.

But don’t take my word for it. Here is a selection of interview responses from across the political spectrum:


Metaxia Myseros, Freshman, Information Technology

Do you plan to vote next Tuesday? Yes (“It’s my first election since I just turned 18 in August.”)

Who do you plan to vote for in the Governor’s race? Ralph Northam (D)

Top Issues:

  1. Free Community College (“It’s important because everyone should be able to get an education, even if they don’t have the money for it.”)
  2. Immigration (“People have lives here, you can’t just go tearing them apart.”)

Which candidate did you vote for in the 2016 Presidential Election? Wasn’t eligible to vote.

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “We’re the future of the country. We will be here longer and suffer the consequences.”


David Devries, Junior, Biology & Chemistry

Do you plan to vote next Tuesday? Yes

Who do you plan to vote for in the Governor’s race? Undecided

Top Issues:

  1. Human Rights (“People are people first, every living thing on this planet has more in common than nothing.”)
  2. Energy Crisis (“Right now we face a lot of scientific illiteracy.”)
  3. Religion (“It’s causing the other two issues to be an issue.”)

Which candidate did you vote for in the 2016 Presidential Election? Jill Stein (G)

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “Because there is a bias towards the past.”


Anonymous, Junior, Government

Do you plan to vote next Tuesday? Yes

Who do you plan to vote for in the Governor’s race? Ed Gillespie (R)

Top Issues:

  1. Tax Reform/Economic Policy (“Taxes are too high.”)
  2. Education (“Public schooling and funding is important.”)
  3. Gun Rights (“The Second Amendment should be protected.”)

Which candidate did you vote for in the 2016 Presidential Election? Donald Trump (R)

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “It’s important to participate in our democracy.”


Wei Lee, Freshman, Computer Science

Do you plan to vote next Tuesday? Yes

Who do you plan to vote for in the Governor’s race? Undecided

Top Issues:

  1. Diversity (“Different people with different election background can love different opinion.”)
  2. Fairness (“Every race should have fair opportunity for the election of Virginia governor”)

Which candidate did you vote for in the 2016 Presidential Election? Hillary Clinton (D)

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “Voting is a way that we people get involved with politics and also it is a responsibility as Virginian citizen.”


Manavi Singh, Junior, AVT

Do you plan to vote next Tuesday? No (“Not a citizen.”)

Who do you plan to vote for in the Governor’s race? Not eligible to vote.

Top Issues:

  1. Planned Parenthood (“It’s just necessary.”)
  2. Pro-Abortion (“Everyone should have a choice.”)
  3. Immigration (“The US is a pretty diverse place and it should stay that way.”)

Which candidate did you vote for in the 2016 Presidential Election? Not eligible to vote.

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “We’re the new generation and the future is on us.”


Lindsay Walter, Sophomore, Communication

Do you plan to vote next Tuesday? No (“Not a Virginia Resident.”)

Who do you plan to vote for in the Governor’s race? Not eligible to vote.

Top Issues:

  1. Government Funding of Planned Parenthood (“Because the government doesn’t have the right to have a say in our reproduction rights.”)

Which candidate did you vote for in the 2016 Presidential Election? Gary Johnson (L)

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “Everyone’s vote matters and you’re giving up by not voting.”


Ben Exstein, Sophomore, Criminology

Do you plan to vote next Tuesday? Yes (“Our tax rates should be based on our economy, not politics. We are divisive, our division impact major things.”)

Who do you plan to vote for in the Governor’s race? Undecided

Top Issues:

  1. Health Care (“We need to have people alive.”)
  2. Education (“Our students are not good at Math like Chinese and Russian students, we have the best colleges but we have such a high school dropout rate.”)
  3. Economy (“We are to indecisive when talking about what should be taxed, taxing should based on economy not on politics.”)

Which candidate did you vote for in the 2016 Presidential Election? Gary Johnson (L)

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “You can’t complain about the President when you don’t even vote. Voting matters when many people do it.”


Tyler Hubbard, Junior, Math

Do you plan to vote next Tuesday? No (“Didn’t register in time.”)

Who do you plan to vote for in the Governor’s race? Not eligible but supports Ralph Northam (D)

Top Issues:

  1. Education (“That’s why I’m here. It’s the answer to everything.”)
  2. Equal Rights (“Everybody no matter what gender/sexual orientation shouldn’t be lower than others.”)
  3. Tax (“They want to cut spending and taxes which is controversial.”)

Which candidate did you vote for in the 2016 Presidential Election? Hillary Clinton (D)

Why do you think it is important for young people and college students to vote? “We should all have our own voice we are young and the future.”


Story photo by Mimi Albano; Slider photo courtesy of Creative Services/Alexis Glenn

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