The Crossover

The Scope of Student Politics

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It’s pretty easy to say that Champlain has a fairly liberal student population. So, of course, most people are happy with the flipping of the House of Representatives after the most recent election. However, even in Burlington, no two students are politically alike. To get a look at just how diverse political opinions are on Champlain’s campus, I interviewed three students before and after the 2018 Midterm Election.

 

Erika Brown – Liberal

Third-year professional writing major Erika Brown from Lincoln, New Hampshire, claims to be the most liberal “snowflake” there is. She was a big supporter of Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential election, mainly due to his stance on healthcare and education. These two issues and more are what she thinks about when she goes to vote. “My mom’s got a pretty serious disease that requires her to be on Medicare or Medicaid, . . . so she very much relies on government-funded healthcare for the oxygen that she’s on, and if she didn’t have it I wouldn’t have her. So, when I go to vote, I’m very much looking at the faces of people I put to certain issues. So, I put my mom’s face towards healthcare and I put my dad’s face towards a solid retirement because he’s almost sixty-five and doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon. I put my sister to LGBTQIA+ issues and I put myself into women’s issues.”

She kept these faces in her mind as voted in the swing state of New Hampshire, where the farther north you go, the more conservative it gets. “There are a lot of Republicans and Conservatives where I’m from,” she said.

Her votes likely helped to flip the House of Representatives during the midterm election. “I’m pretty excited about Democrats taking control of the House. A lot of people were saying that it wasn’t a ‘blue wave,’ but Democrats didn’t have control over anything. Now, they have one-third of the government, and that’s really exciting.”

Erika is also thrilled about the new diversity in Congress. “I don’t think Americans can be represented by upper-class, older, white men anymore. We need diversity. We need new voices, and we especially need young people in office. There has be

Erika Brown, 3rd-year Pro-Writing major

en a large shift in demographics over the past few decades, and this Congress is the best representation of the shift ever.”

However, she believes that Champlain could do more in terms of gathering more young voters. “Honestly, it’s pretty lackluster. I’ve seen a lot of voting things out which is great, but I did not see any last election almost at all. Like, there’s so much at stake on the ballot.”

She believes that students who couldn’t vote in the 2016 election, like the first-years and sophomores, should have had someone help them register to vote. “Like I would have loved to do that. I love talking about voting with people and I want everybody to vote. . . . I don’t think Champlain did enough to help students, and I think they should’ve just because it’s very daunting to go register to vote and some people just want someone to say ‘It’s daunting but it’s worth it.’”

 

Alayna Masker – Conservative

Fourth-year public relations major Alayna Masker feels that her views conflict strongly with the rest of the campus, but she is perfectly happy to talk about her Republican status with anyone willing to listen. Born and raised conservative in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, going to Champlain was certainly quite a change for her, but she still sticks to her Republican roots. “To me, it just makes sense,” she says.

While Alayna knows neither party is perfect, she most identifies with the Republican party for two reasons. The first is religious freedom, which is very important to her as a practicing Catholic. “[Republicans] are the ones that typically support religious freedom and do not push and create policies that go against my religious beliefs.”

The second reason is that Alayna believes Republicans are more fiscally responsible. “I understand that people want to have all of these great services, and they want people to be supported, and to have all of these different things like a reduced/free college education. However, that money has to come out of somewhere, and that means we as taxpayers are going to be paying for it.”

She also does not agree with the current push toward Socialism. “I don’t think Socialism works. . . . Socialism has been proved time and time again that it doesn’t work. Venezuela [is] a great example which we tend to overlook. . . . [We can’t say] ‘In a perfect world, this could work’ because we don’t live in a perfect world.”

Alayna Masker, 4th-year Public Relations major

Despite the fact that the House has flipped, she believes it really won’t make a difference in Washington. With the executive branch, much of the legislative branch, and the judiciary branch mostly right-leaning, she doesn’t see much getting done. “What people don’t realize is they’re like, ‘Oh! We win the whole entire whatever!’” She continued, “If you have a president that has a different belief than you or even if the people in charge have a different belief than you, things aren’t going to get passed. It’s very gridlocked when people don’t get along.”

Although most women voted into Congress were Democrats, she was still very happy about many diverse women voted in. “I think it’s great that there are so many women that were voted in this election season. I think it’s great that women are now being viewed as leaders because it’s about time. . . . I think there’s going to be some really good things that come out of it and just having that representation, in general, is a great thing.”

In terms of politics on campus, Alayna feels as if people should be more open to other political opinions. Often, she feels stereotyped. For example, there’s the stigma where Republicans are anti-woman. She says, “[This is] very confusing because, as a woman, I don’t hate myself or anyone else really.” Or that all Republicans are Trump supporters. For Alayna, this also isn’t true. She actually voted for a conservative third-party candidate. “The biggest stereotype that I get when people find out that I’m conservative is ‘Oh my gosh you voted for Trump,’ and I’m like ‘No I didn’t! You didn’t even bother to ask me if I did. You just assumed that I’m a terrible person because I’m a conservative.’”

 

Cyrus Burris – Moderate

Fourth-year Management of Creative Media major Cyrus Burris from Westport, Connecticut is a registered Independent who is fiscally Conservative and socially Liberal. This means he has more Conservative views on things like government spending and more Liberal views on things like LGBTQIA+ equality and climate change. He voted in Vermont in the most recent election.

Cyrus is a Moderate because he found he agreed with Democrats on some things, like the legalization of gay marriage, and Republicans on other things, like the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. “I found that when I originally registered to vote, I didn’t feel particularly connected to either party at the time and I found that, given the issue, I would sometimes agree [with] a Republican on one issue and [with] a Democrat on another. … I think ultimately [unaffiliation] sort of frees you from any negative things that could come with party affiliation.”

Although he agrees with positions on both the left and right sides, he’s concerned about the recently-split Congress. “If we had a split Congress where they could work together and get things done I’d be happy either way. It just seems to be the case that whenever you have a Congress that isn’t split they are generally more productive,” he said. “I think [the split] is going to increase the overall divisiveness in the country and it’s going to polarize people more and more.”

Cyrus Burris, 4th-year Management of Creative Media major

Even as someone who falls in the middle, he still feels affected by the polarization in Congress. “I think it’s hard not to be affected in some capacity for anybody given how divided society is . . . based on the rhetoric coming from Washington and the way people act towards one another. It’s not as kind or as cooperative as it could be.” Even some aspects of his day-to-day life are different than they were five years ago, which shows that this country’s struggle is not just experienced by those on the right or left, but those who fall in the middle too. “I think the main thing is that it’s more difficult to discuss topics that are controversial [such as gender and sexual identity], not to mention that there are far more topics that are considered controversial nowadays [such as climate change or vaccinations].”

On the upside, he does have hope for the influx of Congresswomen based on the incredible women he has worked within the game industry. “I’ve always been really fortunate to work with the women that I work with. So, I think having a more diverse perspective and having more people from different backgrounds in any workplace is great.”

Even though he does agree with socially Liberal beliefs, he still feels that Champlain, as a whole, is a Liberal echo chamber. “Champlain is an environment that leans more liberally. [The school should] balance that normally Liberal-leaning education with the Conservative opinion on top of that as well,” he said. “Most Conservative ideas around here are generally automatically assumed to be hateful or selfish. I think we could do a bit better to be listening and understanding people’s points of view from all sides of the political spectrum without making assumptions about people’s beliefs.”

Overall, Champlain needs a little help when it comes to politics. First, as Erika said, voter registration on campus must become the norm. Helping students complete the first step in becoming voting citizens is of prime importance, especially nowadays. Second, as Alayna and Cyrus said, Champlain must be more accepting of Conservative opinions, such as challenging socialism or advocating for reduced taxes. The school’s motto is Audeamus or “Let us dare.” So let us dare to become more informed voters, both on the Conservative side and on the Liberal side. That way, by the time the next election rolls around, students will be registered and ready for anything.

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