by Lindsay Fields – UPI
The time has come; the unthinkable has happened. Paris Hilton has a starring role in a politically charged commercial. This election year, the stakes are high and candidates are doing as much as possible to target young voters. But are they stereotyping college students in the process?
“I think that the media definitely portrays all college students as a generation against the war, for change and for Obama,” said Kristen Cooper, a senior in communication at George Mason University. “The media tends to lump all college students together.”
Senior psychology major Karisa Dominguez agrees. “The idea is that young people are apathetic, and they don’t care. Many just don’t identify with either political party. If a young voter associates with a political party, the assumption is they are liberal.”
With election coverage on every channel, students are beginning to notice media bias. “I think the media portrays the Democratic Party in a more positive light than the Republican Party,” Dominguez said. “Whenever I turn on the news, I usually see coverage of Obama at one rally or campaign event.”
Dominguez does admit that with U.S. Sen. McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as vice president, she has seen more “McCain” coverage on all news channels. But this seems to lead only to more generalizations of college students.
One misconception might be that many voters are excited at the idea of a woman running for vice president. Although Cooper personally supports Palin, she is not so sure about the rest of America.
“As much as I’d like to believe America is ready for that step, for a woman in office, I don’t think we’ve reached that point yet as a country,” Cooper said. “There is, sadly, still a lot of prejudice in the United States. It should just be about the issues.”
But with the election drawing near, students must set these frustrations aside and choose a candidate. So how are they deciding whom to vote for? “The Democratic (Party) candidates have been targeting Mason more, trying to get college students’ votes,” said Cooper. “That’s the side we hear the most from.”
Dominguez is taking her time choosing a candidate. “To be honest, I am still not sure which candidate I fully support,” she said.
Many college students are feeling just as uncertain. Cooper explained that she believes there are a large number of students who feel that neither candidate is who they were hoping for as the next commander in chief.
“People see us at a group of young kids who are excited and ready for change, and who are for the most part, unified,” said Cooper. “But the truth of the matter is college students are just as frustrated with this election as anyone else. We’re just voting for who we identify with the most.”
Dominquez agrees that college students are not as unified as the media would like people to believe. “Young people do have a wide array of political beliefs,” Dominguez said. “Just hearing the discussions that go on in classes about the upcoming election is a good indicator that people our age don’t always agree.”
So who will young people be voting for in the polls this election year? It seems there isn’t just one answer; there can’t be one stereotype. But one thing is for certain. “It’s just another stereotype that young people vote the way their celebrities vote,” Dominguez said.
It looks like Paris Hilton is on her own.