On December 9, headlines all across the United States broadcasted the news that CIA reports concluded that Russia aided in the election of Donald Trump as our new President. This finding came as a shock to some, while others found it as something to be expected. Since college students are the next generation of leaders in politics and government, this new administration will have a profound impact on the opportunities afforded to our country's future political trailblazers.
In light of last week's CIA findings, Fresh U caught up with nine college students from across the nation via social media. Although this group of students represents a diverse collection of majors and interests, they all seemed shocked by these recent government reports. Their responses are as follows:
Abbie Turrisi, a freshman Media Studies and Production major at Temple University:
"I'm not entirely surprised – Russia took a liking to Trump very early on in the election. To hear they were involved in the election only solidifies fears I had early on. What worries me is the public response to the issue- there has been very little outrage. If this was any other candidate, I believe we'd have a different story on our hands. I think Trump is capitalizing on an America that does not fact check; when he spreads blatant lies, they are taken as truth by many. America has a very warped sense of what is real at this moment, and it should be interesting to see the response once our intelligence agencies conclude further investigations on the matter."
Desiree Hansen, a sophomore Policy, Planning and Development major with an emphasis in Public Policy and Law at University of Southern California:
"Looking past the obvious breach of our own democratic system, the long term effects could be detrimental to our counterterrorism efforts. As tension rises between President-elect Trump and our intelligence agencies, this threatens our ability to function as a whole when we approach issues as big as ISIS and nuclear threats in Iran and North Korea. I think if Trump really did partner with Russia to tamper with our election*, it shows that he's not putting American interests first, he's putting his own interests first. Whether he will or not in the future is highly questionable."
*Editor's note: The CIA did not imply that Trump partnered with Russia or was aware of any attempts to influence the election.
Ethan Smith, a freshman Missouri University of Science and Technology studying Aerospace Engineering:
"As an American this is very concerning to me. Trump and the Republican Party are discrediting our own intelligence agencies, and [Mitch] McConnell* hiding this information during the election is disturbing. They're spreading misinformation and lies, and it looks like they're selling out the country to Russia while doing it. I think the worst part though is that they've gotten so efficient at this lying and spreading misinformation that people believe it. We need to prevent foreign intervention in our elections and it looks like this will be pushed under the rug."
*Editor's note: McConnell now supports congressional investigations into claims that Russia influence the U.S. election.
Inderpal Bains, a freshman at the University of Missouri with majors in Health Sciences and Economics and minors in Political Science and Psychology:
"Genuinely, if such a breach of security and privacy can occur, it's appalling. Personally, I think that this breach will lead to great political turmoil. Upon closer examination one can see that the laws put in place for electronic voting have no built in contingency plan to assess such an event. The political turmoil will push forward a change in voter fraud assessment in my opinion. I really hope it does; voter fraud has been swept under the rug for decades.* As a country this means that there's a chance that Donald J Trump could potentially not be the president-elect. It's hard to determine to what extent this voter fraud took place considering the span of Russian cyber attacks in the past. Taking into consideration the constant threat that Russian hackers pose to the Pentagon alone it's fair to assume that hacking and changing votes would have been relatively easy. All in all this demands some sort of resolution, although a recount or even a revote seems drastic, it's slowly becoming an increasingly concrete possibility."
*Editor's note: The CIA's assessment was that Russia attempted to influence the election, but made no specific mention of voter fraud. More specific information on the CIA's claims can be found here.
Koby Ljunggren, a freshman Biochemistry major at Missouri State University:
"While I can't say that I'm surprised, I'm somewhat appalled that our president-elect isn't taking this more swiftly. Rather than acting on this information, he's dismissing the CIA's judgment. I also don't believe people should be pitting the election results on Russian interference either. While I do believe they played a role, I do not believe it was significant enough to influence Hillary's loss in the electoral college."
Melanie Schupler, a Temple University freshman studying Public Health:
"I think it's something we already knew and the fact that it is just now being talked about is really an example of how the media failed to evenly report things and focus on the important issues of this election. In my opinion Russia meddling in our campaign and Donald Trump's past of sexual harassment was just a touch more important than Clinton's e-mails, yet the latter got significantly more play in the media. Had this been flipped and Hillary was the one who was tied to Russian influence there would most definitely be a senate judiciary committee looking into it already, and yet now that it's Trump, crickets. It's absurd and if people don't see this as the threat to national security it is they are blinded by Trump's self proclaimed greatness."
Soojin Park, a Boston College sophomore studying Sociology and Biology:
"As the CIA’s investigations show Russia’s potential involvement in the previous US elections, I find this extremely harmful to our nation and our core values. Although international affairs are a crucial component of US politics, when the foreign involvement exceeds the power of the American people, it is obviously problematic. Our leaders must be chosen from our own people- and we must not let foreign influences drown out our own voices and discredit our political system."
Tyler Butler, a freshman at University of Mississippi with majors in Finance and Accounting and minors in Manufacturing Engineering and Political Science:
"It's certainly suspicious that Russia's involvement in the election seemed to favor a Donald Trump presidency. Although he seems keen to write this off as another excuse from the democrats I am hopeful that republicans like John McCain, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham can lead a coalition to discount Trump's passivism. Even more troubling is Donald Trump's nomination of Rex Tillerson [for Secretary of State], an oil guru with big connections in Russia. We need to remember who are allies and who are enemies to democracy."
Wyatt Presnell, a sophomore at Pittsburg State University with a major in Psychology emphasizing psychology in the military:
"I think this is definitely not something that should spawn knee jerk reactions, as there is a great deal that may be going on that we do not know about... First off, forgetting that this even involves Trump, if these allegations are in fact true, we have a great deal to be concerned about, as another nation may have the capability to, and may have in fact influenced the outcome of our own sovereign election. In addition, many people, particularly outspoken critics of Trump would understandably be quick to jump at this as an opportunity to deny his taking office in just under a month, attempting to use these allegations against Russia also as grounds to question his legitimacy as president. But we also must ask ourselves, should this be found to be accurate, whether Trump was involved in any way in Russia's actions. Thirdly, I think we have to realize that the Intelligence Community is made up of human beings, and as such, are prone to their flaws, but so to, their own political leanings."
With the overwhelming disdain towards President-elect Donald J. Trump in light of these CIA findings, it will be interesting to see the outcome of the Electoral College vote on December 19 --just one week away.
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