OSU Students Stress Over Economy, Health Care Issues

OSU Students

By Zack Meisel
By Zack Meisel
Unigo Campus Rep at Ohio State University
Oct. 9, 2008

As the election grows closer, college students feel pressured to choose candidates with stances on major issues that parallel their own. Domestic and foreign concerns, such as the economy and the war, affect students today. Yet, regardless of party preference, certain issues are influencing students more than others.

With the stock market taking a nosedive and Congress forcing out a bailout bill, Ohio State students feel the rising pressure of the economic crisis. But the tension caused by mounting problems on Wall Street may decrease due to the accessibility to information, said Chinenye Nkemwe, communications director of the OSU Democrats.

“It’s more apparent in our day and age because of freedom of information,” she said. “You can just log on to your computer and see the latest things happening on Wall Street, where 20, 30, or 50 years ago, that communication was not there. Just because it’s more apparent and more salient to us, it’s less of an immediate threat.”

Students’ knowledge and awareness also plays a role in lessening the priority of economic issues when it comes to the election, Nkemwe added.

“It affects our future, but the feeling that I’m getting from a lot of students is that the current economic crisis cannot be solved with a bill or a joint committee,” she said. “That’s not to say that we’re not worried, it’s just the fact that many of us are in economics classes and know that it’s happened throughout periods of history.”

According to freshman business major Scott Rosenthal, however, some students plan to wait until after college to agonize over an unstable economy.

“It is an important issue, but right now I don’t feel an immediate effect,” he said. “In a few years, I’ll be thinking about living on my own and working my own hours, and the economy will have to be in a stable position. Right now I feel like it isn’t for most people. I can see down the road in a few years that I’m going to need the economy to be in a good situation for myself to live on my own and not have to rely on my parents.”

The strain on Wall Street will bring about limits on spending and loans for a short time, said economics professor Lucia Dunn. But due to the government’s recent actions, students can put aside fear for their economic futures.

“For the next few months, the current economic crisis may mean that it is harder for students to get loans,” she said. “But I would not expect this to last much longer than the next six to eight months. The government has taken some very strong steps to protect the banking sector and American industry in general.” Although students may continue to come across difficulties in the job market, the worst of the economic crisis has passed, Dunn said.

“I really don't expect that anything as serious as the Great Depression is coming back,” she said. “I think that the worst thing that could happen is that we may have a recession next year. That will mean that it is harder for graduating students to get jobs. Ultimately, anyone with good skills will find employment, but it may take a longer search than usual.”

Along with the economy, the quality of education also represents a major issue among students, said Devin Graham, a junior accounting major.

“Education would be the most important to me, because I am a student,” she said. “It’s just natural for me to feel more inclined to that particular [issue]. When [Sen. Barack Obama] spoke at Ohio State, he talked about what he would do to lower tuition for students and to make it more accessible to get into college.” Students also share diverse opinions about the war in Iraq. Though, to many students, the issue has taken a backseat to economic and educational issues, decisions about when to withdraw troops affects everyone, Rosenthal said.

“One of the most important things in this election is the views on the war,” he said. “Many people support it, many people oppose it. One candidate wants to continue the war for up to 50 years if he feels necessary, and one wants to end it within his first year of presidency. The future of our country and of a lot of young people relies on who gets elected because of the decision on the war.”

Execution of when and how to end the war in Iraq is a critical issue, Nkemere said.

“The fact that we’re in this war right now, we understand that it has to be responsibly ended, and sovereignty has to be given back to the Iraqi people and the country of Iraq,” she said.

Young Buckeyes also agree that health care is a major issue in this year’s campaign. Nkemwe said that the victorious candidate must find a way to appease the nation with affordable and accessible health care. “Health care would be the most important thing to me right now,” she said. “Hopefully after school I’m going to get involved with Peace Corps or something like that and I will not be able to pay for [health care], but I think it’s essential.”

Lack of affordable health care has developed into a widespread problem in America, Rosenthal said. “A lot of people are having issues with that,” he said. “I’m fortunate enough right now to have good health care with my family, but a lot of people don’t and when people don’t have health care, that’s probably one of the biggest personal issues someone can have in this country. They’re experiencing the worst that an individual can.”