Political Issues at URI

University of Rhode Island Students

By Katie Hansen

By Katie Hansen
Unigo Campus Rep at URI

With the presidential election only a month away, it really hit home with University of Rhode Island students that the issues being raised will directly affect their future.

The current state of the economy has taken center stage at URI, especially with seniors who are about to graduate and enter the real world. “College is almost over and I am going to have to get a real job soon, and hearing about the economy right now doesn’t make me feel secure in finding a job after college,” said senior Kelly Fallon. “I know that when I go to vote, I’m really going to have to take into consideration which person will be able to bring this economy and this country back to life.”

Other students on campus brought up additional issues that need attention. “This election will surely impact young people more than ever with Islamic extremism, Russian aggression and our economy in the tank,” said Jonathan Hansen, President of the College Republicans.

URI students were able to voice what issues they are concerned about and what candidate they support in the URI mock election held last week. 892 ballots were cast and in an overwhelming win, Obama received 619 votes while McCain only received 178. But what made 619 students vote for Obama that day? “I just think that Obama will be the change we need in the government right now,” said senior, Kristin D’Auria. “I don’t think students understand the issues as much as we need to but I think we all see that we need a drastic change and I think Obama will provide that.” However,  it is no surprise that when Jonathan Hansen, President of the College Republicans, was asked about what he thought about the candidates, he responded, “I hope students will look past the left leaning campus culture to realize Senator McCain is the only qualified candidate for the job.”

Journalism Professor and former Rhode Island news reporter Barbara Meagher thinks that the students need to be concerned not only with this election but with all of the issues affecting our country today, specifically the economy. “I do see a lot of students engaged in this election, but they may not immediately see how the country's big picture economic problems trickle down to them,” Meagher said. She explained that with the rising cost of tuition, students are becoming more aware that economic problems are actually relevant to them. “It's something I hope they make their business to understand, because very shortly, in fact, once they graduate, get a job and a mortgage, they won't be able to avoid economic issues.”

So how are the URI students pushing for change? According to President Jonathan Hansen, many of them have participated in campaigns to aid the candidate they are leaning towards. The College Republicans have already held phone banks for the McCain campaign and continue to promote McCain’s platform to other students. Likewise, the College Democrats, led by Ryan Drugan, has been involved in the Obama campaign by spreading his platform around campus and encouraging the students to vote on Election Day.

It won’t be long until the students are able to put their concerns into action when they vote on Election Day. Whether they will actually vote is still on the minds of many. Professor Meagher is hopeful for her students. “We know they care...but will they actually go to the polls? Will there be other things taking up their time that day?” Meagher asked. According to the students of URI, they will be showing up to vote and showing that they do care about this country and what happens to it in the future.