Which political issues matter to Oilers?

UF students’ concerns aren’t always addressed in debates

By Sarah Stubbs

The 2016 presidential race is already bringing a several non-voters out of the woodwork as some people are identifying with radical candidates such as Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders.

Throughout the multitude of political debates that have taken place so far in this election, the hot topics among candidates have been mostly gun control, corporate economics/Wall Street, abortion, and illegal immigration.

In the 2008 and 2012 elections of Barack Obama, the young vote (ages 18-29) is what played a big role both of his wins. Throughout the primary and caucus process that’s been underway the past couple of months, polls have shown signs of a similar trend in 2016 – especially with Bernie Sanders. Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire where many young and first-time voters came to cast their ballot for Sanders, according to Politico.

With the most recent primaries this past Super Tuesday, Clinton and Trump have overwhelming won. The exception being Kasich’s win in Ohio.

But what issues are getting students riled up and coming out to vote? Are these issues the same ones that are important to students at the University of Findlay?

The Findlay Media Network hosted a voter panel called Pulse on Politics on Feb. 22 where two Democrats and two Republicans discussed gun control and abortion, specifically addressing the issues of mass shootings and the funding (or defunding) of Planned Parenthood.

Other students at UF, though, seem to very widely on which issues are of the top priority to them. Many of the issues they expressed concern with were not of high importance in the debates, such as social security and the environment.

Emily Pfhaler, junior pharmacy major, said social security was one of her biggest concerns going into the 2016 election.

“Something that matters to me is how our nation is planning social security and the benefits our parents will receive when they are too old for work or it is time for them to retire,” Pfhaler said.

Asked about student loan debt and college costs, Pfhaler said it wasn’t in her top five issues because she views it as an inevitable part of pursuing higher education. “Most people have it. It’s hard to find someone with a college degree that doesn’t have debt. Debt comes with the territory of bettering yourself and furthering education,” said Pfhaler. “It shouldn’t be inoperable or something that you can’t get out from under. I expect to pay off college for the next 15 or 20 years, I know that seems crazy but it’s all about perspective/expectations you have going in. The outcome is worth the debt.”

Also concerned with the economy was Blake Phillips, freshman business and economics major.

“Redistribution of wealth is really important to me. I’m against heavy taxes of the wealthy and for gift taxation. I want to see someone stand up for those who have earned their wealth,” Phillips said.

Second to redistribution of wealth, securing the United States’ boarders and making sure “jobs are not outsourced” is important to Phillips, too.

Other students had less to say about economic issues and more about environmental issues.

Clay Parlette, junior marketing major, said the recognition of climate change is his top priority in the 2016 election. He says that he thinks Hillary Clinton would be a good candidate to address issues of climate change.

Jared Matte, junior ESOH major said he’s not hearing any candidates speak about his main concern for the future of the United States: hydraulic fracturing.

He said candidates don’t talk about it because gas and oil companies often “have so many ties with the government.”

“Currently it’s not regulated under any of our environmental laws. We are wrecking America’s land and water so gas companies can make more money,” Matte said. “The process injects the ground with a cocktail of over 500 chemicals and uses millions of gallons of fresh water.”

Matte added that he hates politics and doesn’t feel like any of the candidates have Americans’ best interests at heart.

“Every one of those politicians has dues to pay and it’s almost never to the benefit of the American people,” Matte said.

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