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Sep 22 2016
by Anna DiGiacomo

College Freshmen Share Who They're Voting For, And Why

By Anna DiGiacomo - Sep 22 2016

College campuses are known for their diversity and it's one of the most rewarding aspects of college life. Whether it's race, region, ideology or something more, the chance to learn and experience different lifestyles in college is unparalleled. Personally, as a small town girl suddenly thrust into the vastness of UNC Chapel Hill, this Fresh U reporter will happily admit that college has been particularly mind blowing. So with election season sweeping across campuses throughout the country, Fresh U was curious to learn just how far this diversity extended into the political arena. Why were college freshmen supporting various candidates? Here’s what we learned.

Donald Trump

It’s a name we all know, whether it's from watching traditional news programs or from the flux of memes centered around his hair. Yet despite all the internet jokes, Donald Trump was chosen as the GOP nominee and he now represents the Republican Party in the 2016 presidential election. He’s known for his strong conservative values, particularly his strong stance on immigration and health care reform. However, Republicans tend to struggle in traditionally liberal college campuses, so what exactly do his college supporters care about?

Although it took some time to find a college freshman willing to publically endorse Trump, Fresh U eventually managed to score an interview with avid Trump supporter and UNC Chapel Hill freshman Joanne Davis. During our discussion, Joanne explained that it wasn’t that she necessarily supported everything Trump represents; instead, her vote centers around the social ramifications Trump represents.

“I want to stir the pot. I want to make changes to the corrupt current system and truly I hate Hillary. I think she is corrupt, and she deserves to be in prison - end of story."

Furthermore, Joanne demonstrated a particular amount of frustration with today’s “PC culture." As she explained, the First Amendment guarantees all American citizens freedom of speech. She made a strong distinction between "freedom of speech" and "freedom from speech."

“Freedom of speech means I get to say what I want. As long as I don’t put another in harm’s way, it doesn't matter if you’re offended.”

On the other hand, Joanne explained that freedom from speech would imply that someone could limit her speech because they didn’t like what she had to say. She claims that when you read the actual document, it's clear that this isn’t what the Founding Fathers intended.

Hillary Clinton

The 2016 election marks the second time Hillary Clinton has run for the presidency, and this may be the year she actually makes it into the White House. As the second major party candidate, Clinton’s liberal ideals stand in direct opposition to Donald Trump’s conservatism. One would imagine this would cause young voters to flock towards Clinton, particularly on liberal college campuses. Yet, surprisingly enough, Fresh U learned that this really isn’t the case.

While there are sure to be some true Clinton supporters among college freshmen, Fresh U didn’t manage to find any for this article. Rather, we only managed to find grudging Clinton supporters such as UNC Chapel Hill freshman Alexis Byrd. Alexis represents a unique portion of Clinton supporters whom only formed from Trump’s backlash.

“I don't support any of them, but I feel obligated to vote for Hillary Clinton because a split democratic vote makes a Trump presidency more likely, and I'd rather deal with a Clinton than a racist, sexist bigot."

UNC Chapel Hill freshman Hannah Barger also falls under this category. Hannah explains that liberal ideals are necessary to deal with all the anger and discourse currently plaguing America. She believes the key to fixing the country lies in local democratic governing and securing the open Supreme Court position for someone dedicated to social justice. All in all, Hannah says this can only be achieved by electing a Democratic president.

“Although I may not like the candidate personally, I will vote for a Democratic president."

Gary Johnson

Gary who? Although he has a fairly impressive resume backing him as a red two-term governor in an overwhelmingly blue state, it seems this candidate simply can’t get his name out. Still, this hasn’t stopped Johnson from running a second time as the Libertarian presidential nominee. He’s known for his unique blend of liberal/conservative ideals and his strong anti-establishment beliefs. In a simple summary, Johnson considers himself fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Furthermore, he has seen growing popularity with the 18-34 age group. 

However, outside his specific politics, Johnson also represents another option besides the traditional two parties. This has made Johnson uncharacteristically popular on college campuses as more voters become frustrated with the increasing polarization of the major two parties.

UNC Chapel Hill freshman, Lauren Iasiello, reflects upon this sentiment.

“To be honest, I don’t really know that much about Johnson. I just want to dismantle the two party establishment”.

Lauren explains that she would love to vote Republican because she's a registered Republican. However, she finds Trump to be too extreme for her tastes and she couldn’t vote for him with a good conscience. She certainly couldn’t vote for Hillary, she explains, so she’s stuck in a bind.

“People say I’m throwing my vote away, and maybe I am. But what else can I do?”

UNC Chapel Hill freshman Evan Waters also had a few things to say about his support for Johnson. He explained that the main reason he’s casting his vote for a Libertarian is to help the third parties gain publicity and break away from the two-party system. Evan believes that the two-party system is corrupt because there is no mention of such a system in the Constitution. Furthermore, Evans says that this system only hurts America as the people are stuck with candidates who don’t represent their values.

“In the end, people are voting Trump because it’s not Hillary, and they’re voting Hillary because it’s not Trump. That’s not the way it's supposed to be.”

Jill Stein

Perhaps the lesser known of all the 2016 candidates, Jill Stein is running as the Green Party candidate. Her platform centers around the idea of transforming America's energy into 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2030, while also ending poverty and preserving the Earth. 

While this following quote is hardly representative of the Green Party supporters, after a week of interviews, Fresh U only managed to find one UNC Chapel Hill freshman named Suzy Huben willing to support Stein.

“I don’t know, I just liked the name."

In order to remain slightly fair to Dr. Stein, feel free to click the following links to learn more about Jill Stein supporters:

Campaign Website

The Huffington Post

All in all, it seems college students will vote for a variety of reasons, even if some seem more valid than others. What's important is that these college students are getting out to vote. For behind every Fresh U interview included in this article, there were numerous students who stated they simply weren't voting at all. Don't be that person. If deciding the future of the country isn't enough to convince you, at least you get a cool sticker for voting. 

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Anna DiGiacomo - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Anna is a freshman Strategic Communications major at UNC Chapel Hill. She played varsity soccer in high school and besieged the student body with libertarianism. She now spends her time annoying her roommate, catching Bruce Springsteen concerts and getting lost while pretending to camp. Follow her on Instagram @digiacomoa

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