Gatepost survey finds majority of students are unhappy with choices for president

[Brittany Cormier]

By Cesareo Contreras

Arts & Features Editor

Andrew Willoughby

Interim Arts & Features Editor

Paola Florencio

Kate Shane

Staff Writers

Two hundred fifty-seven students who are registered to vote, or 80 percent, are dissatisfied with their choices for president, according to an unscientific survey conducted by The Gatepost.

The survey was administered from Sept. 29 to Oct. 7.

Of the 400 students surveyed, 320 said they were registered to vote.

The survey found 187 registered students, or 58 percent, said they support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as the next U.S. president.

Thirty-six registered students, or 11 percent, indicated they support Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Eleven registered students, or 3 percent, said they will support Green party candidate Jill Stein, and another 12 students, or  4 percent, said they will support Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Seventy-one registered respondents, or 22 percent, have not decided whom they are voting for.

Sociology professor Virginia Rutter said, “The overarching pattern is that students are strongly opposed to Trump.”

President F. Javier Cevallos said, “Our students’ opinions are consistent with the national view,” in regards to students’ unhappiness with the candidates.

Christopher McCarthy-Latimer, chair of the political science department, said many voters have a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” mentality, and see voting in the presidential election as picking the “lesser of two evils.”

McCarthy-Latimer said he isn’t surprised many students are dissatisfied with their choices for president, as Clinton and Trump are carrying “a huge amount of baggage.”

He added, “I ask my classes all the time, ‘Why don’t you like Hillary Clinton?’ And they don’t trust her. Students don’t trust her. Young people don’t trust her.”

The same is true for Trump, he said.

“They think he has a very bad temperament and wouldn’t be a good president. He is kind of scary in terms of nuclear weapons and maybe has a strong connection with Russia,” he said. “That’s why the negatives are almost equally high for both candidates.”

McCarthy-Latimer said many voters in this election cycle wonder, “Why did I register to vote if these are my choices and they’re both awful?”

Sociology professor Jonathan Martin said it “makes sense” voters don’t know a lot of information about the third-party candidates “since these candidates get much less money and media coverage.

“All of this suggests to me that our democracy isn’t functioning very well,” he added.

Students were vocal about their disdain for one or both of the two major candidates.

One survey respondent called Trump “the modern-day Hitler.”

Another referred to him as “the Antichrist.”

Many survey respondents called Clinton a “liar.”

Another anonymous survey respondent said they “can’t trust” her.

“I’m going to flip a coin – if its heads, I probably won’t vote and if its tails, I probably won’t vote. We’ll see,” said one respondent.

Junior Deron Hines said he doesn’t think either of the candidates is ideal and both are “messing with our heads.”

He added, “Trump, for one, doesn’t have any major policies, but with Hillary on the other side, she is the obvious choice, but there is a lot of stuff that she stands for that I don’t agree with, but I can’t vote for the racist.”

For many students, this will be the first election in which they will be able to vote.

Cevallos said, “I hope students will look past the campaign … and once the election is over, focus on the future.”

One survey respondent said, “For my first year being legal to vote, the candidates aren’t ideal. I’ll be voting for Trump because my political beliefs match up best with his. Also, Hillary is a compulsive liar.”

History professor Joseph Adelman said, “It’s actually quite heartening to me” that such a large percentage of students are registered to vote.

“One of the things as a historian of the United States, and as somebody whose research work is on the American Revolution, part of my job is helping to encourage students to think about the civic nature of their education and all the civic responsibilities that come with a college education,” he said.

Adelman added, “Part of what it means to be an American is to be engaged in society and make these choices.”

One hundred ninety-four survey respondents, or 49 percent, are unaffiliated with any political party.

One hundred fifty-one survey respondents, or 38 percent, identify as Democrats and 35, or 9 percent, identify as Republicans.

Seven survey respondents, or 2 percent, identify as Libertarian and five, or 1 percent, identify as members of the Green party.

Three survey takers, or less than 1 percent, answered “other.”

Cevallos said, “We know through national polls that most young people are not satisfied with the two-party system and prefer to be independent. The numbers in the survey verify that assumption for FSU students.”

Ballot question 1

Of the registered respondents, 171 students, or 53 percent, will vote yes on Massachusetts ballot question 1, and 140, 44 percent, will vote no.

According to ballotpedia.com, “A ‘yes’ vote [on question 1 will support the] proposal to grant the Massachusetts Gaming Commission the ability to issue an additional slots license.”

Since the license will be issued to a predetermined location, Cevallos said, “It should be up to the specific community to decide if they want a slot parlor or not.”

Psychology professor Michael Greenstein found the survey responses to ballot question 1 “somewhat disheartening,” since “slot machines are pretty much the most addictive form of gambling there is.

“They use immediate, variable reinforcement, which gets people hooked on the rush of winning, but makes it hard to realize when you’re losing,” he said. “This really fast tracks the path to pathological gambling, which is … the negative side effect of gambling that we want to avoid.”

Senior Maddie Alper plans on voting no.

“I don’t think that there is enough information about gambling, because we just got a casino in Massachusetts and they think that it’s going to make all this money and they don’t know the effects it will have on everything else,” she said.

She added, “A lot of people are opposed to it to begin with. And also, it supports horseracing and they treat the horses horribly and it is animal abuse. … It’s terrible.”

Sophomore Steven Furtney plans on voting no.

“I don’t want more traffic in Massachusetts,” he said. “Also, slot machines are the most useless and boring form of gambling.”

Sophomore Jarid Brogan plans on voting yes “because the gambling restrictions in Massachusetts are ridiculous and people should be allowed to open places to gamble.”

Ballot question 2

One hundred forty-four registered survey respondents, or 45 percent, will be voting no on question 2. One hundred sixty-three, or 51 percent, will vote yes. The remaining 4 percent did not respond.

According to ballotpedia.com, “A ‘yes’ vote [on question 2 will

support the] proposal to authorize up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education per year.”

Junior Seth Signa said, “Personally, I’m going with the option to not open more charter schools. I understand some people …  have gone to them and love them and all that, but why delegate the money they are asking for new ones instead of improvements on what’s there already? Plus, I don’t like the idea of them being privately run but wanting public funds and taking from public schools.”

Cevallos said charter schools are important to their respective communities. “The challenge is financing those schools without taking resources from the K-12 districts.”

He added, “The real answer is comprehensive school financing reform.”

Criminology professor Martel Pipkins said the number of registered survey respondents who are in favor of question 2  “was a bit startling” given FSU was the first normal school in the nation.

A normal school is an institution that trains teachers.

“Although the numbers were a bit close between those who plan to vote for and against [question 2], the number of yes votes suggests either a lack of information or too much misinformation on the reality of charter schools,” said Pipkins.

Pipkins suggested there is a misconception about charter schools.

“A common idea … is that they are more successful and better run than public schools. On a whole, this is not true,” Pipkins said.

Ballot question 3

Of the respondents registered to vote, 243, or 76 percent, will vote yes on question 3 and 62, or 19 percent, will vote no. 

According to ballotpedia.com, “A ‘yes’ vote [on question 3 will support] the proposal to prohibit the sale of eggs, veal, or pork of a farm animal confined in spaces that prevent the animal from lying down, standing up, extending its limbs, or turning around.”

Junior Kathleen Schipelliti said she will be voting yes on question 3, as “the welfare of animals is important.

“It is immoral for us to keep animals in conditions where they are unable to turn around, or even lie down,” she said. “This is inhumane and provides a poor quality of life, and changing this will begin a reform in the way we raise farm animals.”

Junior Doug Murphy said voting yes is the “obvious” answer. 

“This is simply putting ethics above convenient prices,” he said. “If you could vote to end sweatshop labor despite the higher clothing prices that would result, would you not?”

Sophomore Mike Brule, who is voting no, said, “I read the article in the last Gatepost between Jill [Poland] and Tess [Jillson], and I agreed with how this will inflate the prices of food in Massachusetts like it did in California.”

Sociology professor Jim McQuaid said he “isn’t at all surprised” by the results.

“I think the moral equation, that the horrifying suffering that the animals will go through, outweighs slightly more expensive eggs or beef or pork,” he said.

Ballot question 4

Two hundred forty-one registered respondents, or 75 percent, will vote yes on question 4, while 69, or 22 percent, will vote no. 

According to ballotpedia.com, “A ‘yes’ vote [on question 4 supports the] proposal to legalize marijuana but regulate it in ways similar to alcoholic beverages.”

Freshman Jennie O’Leary will be voting no.

“I feel like there’s no way of guaranteeing an escape from it if you don’t want to be around it,” she said.

Sophomore Victoria Brown will also vote no on question 4 “because people already get weed even though it’s illegal. It doesn’t have to be legalized because people get it either way.”

Junior Joy Rizzo will also be voting yes “because the tax revenue could be greatly beneficial.

“It would create a whole new field of jobs. It would regulate the substance which is important to parents, and it is really not damaging to one’s health, or at least [not] any more so than alcohol, cigarettes or prescriptions drugs,” she said. 

According to Cevallos, the ballot is “not about [the legalization of] marijuana, but the whole issue of prison reform and social justice associated with it.”

McCarthy-Latimer said there is “still much unknown” about the impact marijuana has had on states that have legalized it. 

Massachusetts needs to assess the potential effect legalized marijuana will have on the commonwealth, he said.

Rutter said, “These types of laws are really about social control and commerce. They are not about health. Students are wise to that.”

Voting

After viewing the survey results, sophomore Nada Shaaban said she was surprised anyone would vote for Trump.

“Even if 398 people said they weren’t going to vote for Trump, [I think] it’s more mind blowing that two people would vote for Trump.”

Junior Samantha Chandler said students should “just go vote because democracy is a privilege.”

Sophomore Britney Cita is “not super thrilled with either of the candidates.”

However, she urged all registered students to vote. “It’s a waste not to vote. … Every vote counts. A lot of people think, ‘If i don’t vote, it’s not going to make a difference,’ but it will.”

McCarthy-Latimer said it is paramount students go out and vote.

“The reason why people over 60 get a lot from Congress is because they have high percentages of people who vote,” he said. “So I say, ‘If you want to have more of an impact, as young people, 18-to-28-year-olds, you’ve got to get out and vote!’”

Cevallos said, “I am happy to see that the majority of our students take their civic duties seriously.”

Rutter said, “I want people to vote. I want people to be informed. I want people to be engaged. I want people to be proactive.”

SGA Ezequiel De Leon said, “Being a black man, I think about the civil rights movement and how that means that I can vote today. … When you don’t vote, you let other people decide for you.”

[Editor’s Note: Nicholas Murphy, Sarah Sousa, Richard Tranfaglia and Allison Wharton contributed to this article.]

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