With the presidential elections only a few months away, the UVU Review collected results from a poll conducted on 150 random students. Leaders of political groups on campus also gave their perspective on this election year.
Covi King, president of the College Democrats, grew up in Seattle with a conservative father and a liberal mother. King claims she is moderately placed on the political scale. When King heard there was no Democrat group on campus, she decided to do something about it.
King said she was surprised that 105 out of 150 students said they planned to vote. King said it is very important for students to discover for themselves what they really believe and to be proactive about it.
King said the College Democrats’ biggest objective is to take an open-minded approach and help encourage students to be more politically involved.
“The direction we push is to get to know your local political leaders, understand the platform for the national parties and be registered to vote and act upon that knowledge,” King said. “If we can’t be open minded and learn about new things in college and while we’re still young, then when is that going to happen?”
King said she would like students to understand that they need to realize there is more than one person responsible for the country’s problems.
“I think we really need to focus on holding Congress, our House Representatives and our Senators responsible,” King said. “We have direct influence. President Obama is not perfect—he’s made some big mistakes. But we need to focus on changing that more than hating and blaming.”
Lauren Anderson, president of the College Republicans, developed her interest in politics around the age of 8. She grew up in a home of politically active parents who encouraged her to pursue her own political beliefs.
Anderson said the number of undecided voters is typical.
“The 18 to 24-year-olds take a little bit longer to decide on their candidate. That’s perfectly normal. That happens every election cycle,” Anderson said. “There will be kids who don’t know who they’re voting for until a week or less before the election. It’s kind of an interesting phenomenon.”
Anderson has been trying to get early voting on campus, but has been unsuccessful getting the Utah County Clerks Office to do so.
“I hate to say this, but the Utah County Clerk’s Office was very resistant to the idea,” Anderson said. “I wish that we had locations on campus already. I think that would help significantly in getting students more involved.”
Anderson said demographics are a big factor in understanding why Mitt Romney is so popular on campus. She said one of the reasons Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have been successful with college-aged students is because they are focusing on the economy, getting people back to work and getting the nation out of debt.
Anderson’s message for students is that politics are accessible, and they should look at information, ask questions and find answers.
“You won’t regret spending any time in politics and finding out what’s going on and being involved,” Anderson said.
Josh West, president of the Revolutionary Students Union, was raised with strong Christian values that he believes helped shaped his views. West believes it is important that students use their abilities to express their interests.
West said he does not find Mitt Romney being ahead in the poll as a big surprise.
“We live in a culture that has been Republican for a good amount of years. It wasn’t always that way,” West said. “I think we have a culture with Mormonism that has a conservative attitude. In the past they were actually fairly radical-based and supported more collectivist measures. The United Order was very strong here. They were strong abolitionists against slavery. In recent years they’ve turned to the right over various social issues.”
West said that neither Democrats nor Republicans have delivered, and neither party’s ideas are conducive to students and workers. He said Republicans are pushing for higher interest rates on student loans, and Democrats have opposed.
“A lot of times we depend on student loans, we depend on scholarships, we depend on Pell Grants,” West said. “If the Republicans have their way, then we’re not going to be able to rely on those things at all.”
West, speaking about the values of the Revolutionary Student Union, said, “We have values where we emphasize the rights for everyone to have an education, not just the affluent, but everyone.”
“I would like to remind students that both [the Democrat and Republican] parties represent the interest of the upper class. They have their own ways of going about it,” West said. “What’s really important is our ability to express our interests, we can do that out on the streets, we can do that out on the campus, and the RSU is a organization body that allows students to do that for their own interests.”