Catamounts to Vote with Conviction

UVM Students

By Katherine Duhaime

By Katherine  Duhaime
Unigo Campus Rep at UVM

Vermont has long been the maverick of the union.  The state is known for being vocal about its environmental and social justice concerns. This willingness to speak out against Washington has given the Green state a reputation as a liberal and free-minded place. UVM is an environment where students and faculty can come together to discuss politics on a national and global level.  Freshman at UVM are likely to be overwhelmed by the open resentment much of the student body feels towards the U.S. government.  This election season has highlighted some of the issues about which students feel the most passionate about. These include environmental, gender, racial and national security concerns.  In and out of the classroom, UVM is a forum for exchanging ideas.

The topics of gender and racial inequality have been garnering special attention this election year. Our campus, although gender equal, has strong opinions regarding sexism.  UVM sophomore and early childhood development major Virginia Winans is the current president of Feminists at UVM.  This group meets weekly to discuss current events and plan gatherings to support their cause. Winans has kept up with the campaign this season and feels strongly about the way women have been portrayed as candidates.  “It is awesome that Hilary Clinton was taken seriously as a politician, but it was interesting how she was made fun of for being aggressive and emotionless,” said Winans. “Sarah Palin on the other hand, a stereotypical mom, is made fun of for being ill equipped for the position she’s running for.  It’s a lose/lose situation for the female candidate.” 

Winans, an Obama supporter, respects the politician for supporting the feminist point of view.  “In his candidacy acceptance speech I remember him saying ‘I want my daughters to have the same opportunities that you’re sons have had.’  That comment made me trust that he does have gender equality in mind.”  Winans is also in favor of Obama’s pro-choice position, as well as his stance on legalizing same-sex marriages.  To support Obama and gender equality, Feminists at UVM have organized a concert called “Rock for Choice.”  It is their hope that this concert will bring people together, celebrating gender equality as well as Obama’s candidacy. 

Student interest in the election is noticeable in and out of the classroom.  Political Science professor Tony Ewald has recognized increased student interest in social issues as the election draws near.  “The student body seems concerned with questions of race and gender, immigration, voting rights and procedures, and how we get our information.”  This election has affected the student body more than those in the past.  “With the current state of our country’s foreign and fiscal situations, the outcome of this election will have a serious impact on the student voters,” said Ewald. “In addition, whatever your political point of view is, an African American is a presidential candidate and a woman came closer than ever to being one. That right there makes this election more important to students than others in the past.” 

Political groups on campus have rallied their forces and inspired hundreds of unregistered students to sign up.  Activist groups are promoting their issues and professors are sparking political conversation in the classroom.  While the outcome of the election remains uncertain, what is certain is that UVM is speaking out in favor of their causes, their beliefs and their preferred presidential candidate.  As Ewald put it, “They say every 2 or 4 years that the youth’s vote will make a change, and maybe, just maybe, this election will prove that to be true.”