Penn State’s Political Issues Show a Diverse Student Body


By Samantha Pearson
Unigo Intern at PSU
Oct. 28, 2008

True to Penn State’s diverse population is the student body’s opinion on what issues are important in the 2008 presidential election. With students from different countries, backgrounds, and political standings, students are concerned with a wide range of issues. Women’s issues.  Moral issues. Healthcare. The war in Iraq. Civil unions.

“I believe it is a combination of all of the issues. It’s hard to vote for someone on one issue,” said Daniel Kolbe, a junior in information services and technology. “You have to look at the big picture.”

Interests varied, though it did seem that everyone, no matter their political opinion could agree on the fact that we are all students, and as students, we are more often than not strapped for cash.  So, it was no surprise that most students are worried about the economy, student loans, and how both would affect our futures.

“I definitely think that the economy and student loans, particularly on a college campus, are big issues. Because of the rising costs of tuition, books, and the extras of supporting yourself, we are all wondering what our futures will hold,” said Emmy Enders, a sophomore majoring in French and marketing.

Maryam Movahedi-Lankarani, a junior in political science, agreed. “For students, I think that the cost of a college education and the current job market are the most important issues.”

Political groups on campus express their interests in varied ways. Whether it’s at a concert supporting Obama, – or a debate for McCain, students are openly supporting their respective candidates.

At the Hub, the central location for student organizations and activities, pro-life displays that feature pictures of mutilated fetuses and the cruelties of abortion could be found in October. While this was meant to persuade students to vote for pro-life candidates, the display showed reality in an incredibly blunt way while making students think about moral issues.

“The gruesome display is not something that people want to see, because it reflects the cruel reality of abortion that so many refuse to accept. It may have been a little extreme, but I hope that people walked away more educated on the issue,” said Amanda

Spitko, a freshman majoring in elementary and kindergarten education.
Spitko is a Christian who is voting for McCain and Palin because they share some of her conservative beliefs.

“My religious and moral beliefs reflect in my political opinions. I plan to vote for McCain and Palin because I believe that they live out their faith in their lifestyles as well as their political decisions.”

Moral issues also affect organizations such as LGBT Students for Obama.  With civil rights issues up in the air, such as same-sex marriages and insurance benefits, and the ENDA Non-Discrimination Act which will stop employers from being able to discriminate future employees based on sexual orientation, the LGBTA Student Resource Center is seeing large amounts of traffic.

“Certainly the presidential election is a huge deal for the LGBT community. There will be a lot of changes depending on who is elected,” said Claire Gonyo, assistant director of LGBTA Student Resource Center.

Many students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender at Penn State feel that Barack Obama is the better candidate, hence the organization, LGBT Students for Obama. They feel that Obama has taken the initiative in the state of Illinois to fight against LGBT hate crimes and they believe that he will fulfill his promise of taking these initiatives to the national level.

Honestly, to me, LGBT issues are very important,” said Kolbe, who is president of LGBT Students for Obama. “Barack Obama has always been in support of the LGBT community. From the first time that I heard Barack speak, I was moved. After hearing his stances, I fell in love with his campaign. I felt the need to help in any way possible to help Senator Obama get elected.”

Movahedi-Lankarani, who volunteers at Barack Obama’s Campaign for Change headquarters and is vice president of Students for Barack Obama, feels similarly about Obama.

“I decided that it was time to stop complaining about the failed policies of our government and do something about it,” she said when asked why she volunteers at the headquarters. “I think that the state of our economy and bringing the war in Iraq to an end are big issues, and Barack’s plan is better suited.”

And has her experience been worthwhile?



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