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Students encouraged to look into 2012 national election

March 9, 2012

When it comes to knowledge of the presidential primaries and election, some students at UW-River Falls know what it is going on and some do not.

There is a group of students that are following the debates and primary results, but a lot of them do not know the hard-hitting issues the Republican candidates talk about or even President Barack Obama’s plan of action if he is re-elected.

One student, Joseph Grinols, is a junior at UWRF and a political science major. Grinols participated in the Minnesota presidential caucus this year and follows almost all the debates and the candidates on C-SPAN.

One caution that Grinols wanted to let students know when they are trying to decide what candidate they want to vote for, is to watch which media outlet they get their information from.

He also pointed out that some media outlets, like CNN, are not being objective in their reporting and are directing who is going to win or lose.

“People need to realize that news sources are not scientifically correct and might not even use the information they collect,” said Grinols.

Grinols said that he thinks students pay attention to what is going on, but he questions whether or not they actually go deeper to finding out information on their own.

Mitch McQueen, a senior at UWRF and a political science major knows who he wants to vote for but said he “could use more knowledge about the election and primaries.”

McQueen’s advice for the student body was to not base their decisions about the candidates on what they say in their campaign promises because they never follow through.

Instead, students should look at past voting records and legislation to gain a better understanding of what that candidate is all about.

Some students who are not political science majors are also doing their homework and figuring out what candidate best represents what they believe in.

An environmental science major says that he will actively go out and search for information but he doesn’t go to any rallies or meetings. Nathan Klaus is a senior at UWRF and he said that he is up to date with the election and primaries.

“I know some issues and candidate news but not all understandings of them,” said Klaus.

After talking to students, they told the Student Voice that they are following what is going on but when the election gets closer, they will start to pay more attention to what issues are being talked about and what the candidates’ campaign promises are.

Katie Wolfgram, an international studies major and sophomore, echoed the other students.

“I am waiting for primaries to be over because then they [Republicans] will have a candidate and will start putting out actual ideas,” said Wolfgram.

She thought that the primaries play for the popular vote before serious issues take place.

Wolfgram’s advice for students was to pay attention to the news and voting and

to also talk with friends and family about the candidates because they might know something that you do not.

One student, an undecided sophomore, Olivia LeTourneau, was the only student talked to that did not know anything about politics, who was running or the election process.

“I don’t know the issues the candidates are talking about,” said LeTourneau. “I pay more attention to homework, friends and social networking.”

The only information that LeTourneau talked about was what she gathered from Facebook and she referred to pictures of President Obama fist pumping and a picture of

Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

LeTourneau said that she does not actively go out and read the newspaper but it is her first year to vote in a presidential election.

“I am an adult now and more worried about how it will affect me,” said LeTourneau. “I feel like my one vote won’t change anything but I feel like I should have a say in who is running the country.”

Political science professors Davida Alperin and John Evans both said that they hope students are taking an active role in knowing who the presidential candidates are and are using that information to make a strong decision.

Evans said that college students are not very active in voting and members of Congress know who is actively participating in voting. Evans explained that if more students participate, the more government funding and programs would be available because of their participation.

“For me to be doing my job, I need to let students know what is at stake for them,” Evans said. “Politics can be cool and fun.”

Evans shows videos of the Simpsons or Monty Python to his classes and most students did not know the underlying political message that was in it until it was explained.

“It’s professors jobs to inform students and hope students gather information about it or know about that information,” said Evans.

Professor Alperin shared the same view as Evans in it being important for students to inform themselves about politics and government and the presidential election.

“Decisions made by all levels of government will have a direct impact on them and their communities for years to come,” said Alperin.

All students vary depending on their own beliefs in what is important to them and what interests them in politics, was also another commonality between Evans and Alperin.

“One thing I like about teaching at River Falls is we have a good mix of Republicans, Democrats and Independents,” said Alperin.

“Democracies work if citizens inform themselves and pay attention to elections so they can make sound decisions when it comes time to vote,” added Evans.

The students of UWRF are not aware of the big issues and more information gathering would help with deciding whom to vote for in November.

However, McQueen said, “The student body at large will vote for whoever is most popular.”

The Wis. presidential primary will be on April 3.

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