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A divided campus

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Kevin Golden | Inside

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Published on Nov. 6, 2012 | Print | Share | Recommend ()

Today, Americans will step into voting booths and elect the next president. In this election, there are more than 180,000,000 citizens registered to vote. But an election is more than just politics.

For these six students, with conflicting partisan views, this is a divided campus.

Loganspot, Ind.
President of IU College Democrats

Senior environmental management major Christopher Babcock says a trip to Vietnam  emphasized the importance of environmental protection in the United States.

On a walk, Babcock noticed a young boy toss a soiled napkin into the streets. As he traveled along a forest trail, he found himself surrounded by mounds of garbage.

Babcock says this experience was eye opening. It gave him another reason to fear Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Babcock says the religious right of the Republican Party, has a sense that global  warming isn’t an issue. They believe God is in full control of the Earth and climate  change.

“They make decisions that could directly and indirectly support their industries rather than protect their citizens from actual harm,” he says.

He says he fears if Romney becomes president, Roe v. Wade, social security,  Medicare and Medicaid will be rolled away.

“I would be scared under a Romney presidency that decisions might be made that were politically convenient and not in the best interest of the whole country,” Babcock  says. “However, to say or to think that the economy being bad wouldn’t affect me personally just because I have a job, it just isn’t true,” he says. “Ultimately, what I fear most is I don’t know what a Romney presidency would look like,” Babcock says, “and I think that’s scary for me."

Treasurer of IU College Republicans

Sophomore Riley Parr remembers watching the election coverage on television in 2008. Although he wasn’t old enough to vote, he says he remembers wanting Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. to win but didn’t fully grasp what it would mean for the country if either candidate won.

Four years later, it’s not the same story. Parr is currently treasurer for the IU College Republicans and involved with the Student Alumni Association and Student Alliance for National Security. He says he knows politics, and he knows he wants Mitt Romney in office.

Parr calls himself “not your normal college-aged Republican” and more of a social conservative than other students.

He supports Romney for his knowledge in business, something he believes the country needs due to the financial crisis, and would like to see a sound economic plan in place.

“I think what Obama’s done is energize Republicans like me to get them to do their research and understand the philosophies and history behind the issues,” Parr says. “We don’t have to listen to the man on the television or the newspapers to make our own decisions.”

Milwaukee, Wis.
Sent in an absentee ballot for the election

Tess Leuthner is a senior studying environmental science. She is also involved with Timmy Global Health and works at a research lab that studies environmental toxicology in aquatic systems. She’s passionate about the environment and concerned about health care.

Leuthner says she is an avid President Barack Obama supporter. She’s nervous, though. It’s the idea of a nation run by Mitt Romney that scares her.

“He’s going to try and destroy all the progress that we’ve made over the four years, mostly social issues and economic issues,” Leuthner says. “He’s not fighting for women, or minorities, or gays, or workers, or artists.”

For Leuthner, Obama is a symbol of trust — the man who sees the nation and its people in its entirety, she says.

“I guess he’s incredibly determined and selfless, and you usually don’t feel that way about a politician,” Leuthner says. “I think that’s why I am able to trust him, because he’s looking out for everyone. He understands what world he wants to leave behind for his children.”

Romney, on the other hand, makes her feel uneasy, she says. She says she’s afraid that he doesn’t understand America and the issues at hand.

“That’s what I fear, that he’s blind to things,” Leuthner says. “He’s blind to other ways of life that make the U.S. what it is.”

The more vocal Romney has been, the more worried Leuthner has become.

“He can never answer the question with what he’s actually going to do,” she says. “Even when I muted the debates, I would feel worse just watching him in how he treated the audience, the moderator, and Obama.”

“He’s just so aggressive and disrespectful, and that is just not someone who should be running the country,” Leuthner says.

Washington, Ind.
Chairwoman of IU College Republicans

Hilary Leighty is determined to make her last month as chairwoman of the IU GOP a good one.

Leighty has been working hard manning the phone banks and helping out with various delegates’ campaigns.

“I don’t think it’s going to be good if (Obama) has another four years,” she says. “I think there’s going to be a lot of good things that won’t happen if he is president.”

With parents who are generally conservative, Leighty says she did not grow up in a very politically minded environment and did a lot of her own research before deciding she agreed more with Republican policies.

The classes she’s taken at IU have only reinforced her conservative beliefs and ideals, she says.

A junior studying marketing and management in the Kelley School of Business, Leighty says the party’s stand regarding economic and business issues appeal to her most.

A supporter of Reaganomics instead of Obama’s brand of Keynesian economics, and a supporter in Bush tax cuts, instead of tax hikes, Leighty says Obama’s policies have created a burden on small businesses.

“I don’t know when it became a crime to be successful and make money in this country, but apparently it has,” Leighty says. “The thing that makes me frustrated more than anything else in this election is (Obama’s) demonizing people for being successful, and for making money. Like, that’s the American Dream. That’s the entrepreneurial spirit. These people have worked hard.”

Leighty says that if Obama is reelected, there might be more waiting for good things to happen. She poses the idea that the economy could remain stagnant until 2016.

For election night, Leighty already has her plans laid out: at the headquarters making calls all day, working the polls for a few local candidates she endorses, going to KRC Banquets and Catering to support Todd Young and his staff and then attending party with the other College Republicans.

“And I might go to the bars after that, for a little bit, if it’s a good night,” she says. “We’re hoping for good things. We’ll see if I’m really happy or really depressed.”

Memphis, Tenn.
Voted with an absentee ballot in Tennessee

As a political science major and columnist for thecollegeconservative.com, junior Parker Mantell knows his facts.

He’s done his research, he has the numbers, and he isn’t afraid to share it.

“I tell people all of the time we are all part of the debt-paying generation,” Mantell says. “Yet today, half of Americans out of college can’t get a job and that’s very frightening.”

So in an election that Mantell says will be determined by the economy, Romney has his vote.

“If his tenure of balancing budgets as governor of Massachusetts has any indication on how Romney would run this country, he has what it takes,” Mantell says.

Charged social issues may be what fire up the passionate American public, and Mantell sees nothing wrong with that, but he believes that this presidency will be determined by economic decisions.

Candidates must be able to do more than just talk for the millions of Americans without jobs and for the students prepping to join the workforce.

“The reality is that this is the final chance we have to get this country back on track,” Mantell says.

And for Mantell, Romney is the one to do it.


West Lafayette, Ind.
Re-registered to vote in Bloomington this year

Sonya Jayaratna wants to go into health care. She’s studying biology as a senior and is involved with Timmy Global Health in addition to doing research in an animal behavior lab.

If Romney is voted into office, Jayaratna says she is especially nervous when it comes to healthcare policy.

“Even when he speaks over and over about how he pays attention to the middle class or how he’s in for the middle class or whatever, he’s so wishy-washy,” Jayaratna says. “That speaks to why I don’t believe he really has those issues in mind.”

She says she is afraid Romney doesn’t seem to always understand the importance of social issues.

“I like how Obama says that it’s like an investment in a person,” Jayaratna says. “People don’t always have the means to or the opportunity to become a Romney themselves, and I don’t think Mitt Romney really understands that.”

Jayaratna says she fears that Romney’s views are outdated and will stunt America with his mindset.

As one of the millions of immigrants, she also says she doesn’t find him relatable.

“He just has an ideology that should not be applied to today’s society, it’s not consistent with how we have evolved as a population,” Jayaratna says.

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