Nineteen percent of voters in this year’s election were between the ages of 18-29 – an increase from 2008, according to exit polls. Of the young voters, 60 percent chose to re-elect President Barack Obama.
Throughout the year’s campaign, much of Gov. Mitt Romney and Obama’s focus had been on the youth. Both candidates held strong, opposing views on issues affecting the future of students.
Courtney Kerns, senior from Paducah, Ky., said this election was critical for the college-aged, especially with the unsettled economy and job market.
“I want President Obama to address the job situation,” Kerns said. “I’m graduating soon and my job search hasn’t been too successful. I’m scared there won’t be many jobs available after graduation.”
While Kerns is concerned for her future career, Alex Green, junior from Paducah, Ky., said he believes job growth is on the rise.
“I personally plan on going into the manufacturing industry,” Green said. “I have been told the jobs are increasing. I hope to be able to get a job when I graduate but I think it’ll be a slow process.”
Green said he thinks Obama’s plan for the economy will work, but said it will take time and that economic recovery would not only depend on the president’s work, but on Congress’s cooperation as well. Green said the lack of working across bipartisan lines so far has attributed to the slow movement of the economy.
Ali Love, junior from Murray, said the national debt has only gotten worse since Obama entered his presidency. Love believes Obama’s ability to keep tuition rates low for students will depend on his work with the economy.
“The recession hasn’t really ended,” Love said. “Unless he changes his policies, I don’t think tuition prices will improve.”
Marcie Siders, senior of Dover, Tenn., said tuition prices are a major concern for her. She said the Obama administration has continued to support federal funding for public education, such as through the Pell grants and she hopes it continues.
“I wouldn’t be here without (the grants) and student financial aid,” Siders said. “If we have any hope of being able to compete in the current market, we have to continue supporting higher education.”
While students held strong opinions on the economy related to education, students were also concerned with many of the social aspects of the campaign. Many students said their social views influenced their decision to vote more than other matters.
“I supported Obama because I am pro-choice and I support gay rights,” Green said. “I agreed with him more on social issues. I’m not religious, so I guess that affects my decision on Obama’s social stances. I don’t think religion should dictate government policy.”
Love disagreed with Obama’s views, saying her religious affiliation and conservative views were not in line with the president’s.
“I disagree with abortion because I believe an unborn child has the right to life and the pregnant mother shouldn’t be allowed to take that right away,” Love said. “Gay marriage doesn’t fit with my view of traditional marriage, which I believe is meant to be between a man and a woman.”
While Kerns voted for Romney, she said she holds more liberal views on social issues and agrees with Obama’s opinions.
Siders also agrees with Obama’s social views, although she voted for an independent candidate.
Siders said she voted independent because she was unsure of either candidate’s ability to lead the country.
“I didn’t agree with Romney’s beliefs,” Siders said. “I completely disagreed with his plan for the country, so I’m really just happy he wasn’t elected, although I didn’t necessarily support Obama.”
Kerns said, while she was disappointed in the outcome of the election, she will support Obama in his presidency. She stressed her opinion of how some students have reacted after the election.
“With as negative campaign as Obama had, the outcome is expected to be negative, too,” Kerns said. “But I definitely disagree with how some students have reacted to Obama being re-elected. We shouldn’t be fighting like this, especially on social media.”
Siders agreed with this opinion, saying some students have been extremely closed-minded.
“There’s a lot of bigoted comments being thrown around on Facebook and honestly, it’s stupid,” Siders said. “We’re supposed to be a forthcoming nation and we’re really far behind in that sense.”
While students have differing views, most agree to support Obama for the next four years. Students are looking for change and recovery in social, economic and educational aspects.
Story by Lexy Gross, Staff writer.