A taste of the millennial perspective on TCU campus

Huffington Post: Politics

In light of "Super Tuesday," the most important date thus far of the 2016 primary elections, we drove to the Texas Christian University campus today in Fort Worth, Texas, to get millennial students' perspectives on the imminent elections. We arrived on campus eager to hear who students voted for.

However, after stationing ourselves in the center of campus, we initially received just one response to our question "Hey, have you voted?" That answer was no. Most of the students we ended up talking to hadn't voted, but they were either planning on voting, or didn't vote not due to a lack of interest, but due to difficulties in voter registration.

Gradually, however, we discovered several trends. First, we found that the millenials at TCU did not follow the general trends we are seeing in the mainstream media. Not one student was a Trump or Cruz supporter. Additionally, many said that although Bernie Sanders has ideas that sound great, realistically, he won't be able to implement them. The second trend we found was students not voting because they viewed registration either as a hassle, or confusing.

Defying National Trends

While we often hear about Sanders' sweeping success across college campuses, TCU students seemed more apprehensive in trusting his promises. Hayden Guy, a 19-year-old student who is registered as independent, said he has closely followed the election, but hasn't yet decided whether he will vote for a Democrat or Republican. He said that Sanders is "easy to get behind" for college students.

"He has some crazy ideas," Guy said. "I do think a lot of it has to do with the bold statement about legalizing marijuana and free college and things like that. I think that whether it's realistic or not, it definitely appeals to kids and it's kind of like a fairytale."

Guy defied yet another trend, saying if there was one candidate who he wouldn't vote for, it would be Texas Senator Ted Cruz , a top three Republican contender. Instead, he favored Ohio Governor John Kasich the most out of the Republican candidates, who some predict will drop-out after Super Tuesday.

"(Kasich) is not necessarily as entertaining as other candidates but the things he has said, I've connected with and I think he has his head on his shoulders."

Catherine Tharp, 19, also an independent, said she is examining both sides and deciding who the best leader of the country will be. Tharp said that she won't vote for Sanders because his economic policies are "unreasonable," and that she is "absolutely not going to vote for trump."

Yet another college student who defied national trends was 21-year-old Nick Warren. He was also the only millennial we talked to who had already voted.

"I voted for Marco Rubio because while I'm Republican, I'm not as crazy or super far right as some might believe," he said. "I don't really line up with Trump or Cruz on a lot of issues. I thought Rubio was less 'crazy conservative,' if that makes sense."

Warren added that he views Trump as an embarrassment and disagrees with his policies toward Mexican immigrants, Muslims and Trump's degrading remarks to women.

"My dad is a small business owner who relies on Hispanic labor and not all of them are rapists thieves or terrible people," he said. "My dad was also in the military and fought three tours and if he's okay with (Muslim people), then I am too."

Warren, a finance major, said he doesn't believe Sanders policies will line up with what he would actually be able to accomplish.

Unawareness, Inconvenience Causing Low-turnout

Among the students we talked to who did not vote there was one common thread: unawareness and inconvenience surrounding registration.

Briton Munoz, 22, did not vote in the 2008 election despite being old enough, because he didn't know how. This year, that wasn't the case.

"This was the first time that I registered, because TCU has a little booth set up with people who were helping you, helping the students come and register," Munoz said.

Munoz won't be missing out this year, but many other TCU students had registration woes.

Tharp, despite being a native Texan, did not vote, because she was registered in a different county.

Twenty-year-old Ayanna Turner ran into the same problem because she wasn't registered in Fort Worth either.

As busy college students, the prospect of registering to vote and making the concerted effort to vote--in a primary election which they may not view as important--can seem like a nuisance.
Guy compared it to one of the college students' worst enemies.

"I think that's almost like homework, you have to go out of your way to do it," he said.

Not all of the students we talked to felt negatively about the effort it takes to vote. Warren was passionate about the student vote and what students "lose out on" when they don't participate in elections.

"While they're not wasting their time in voting they're wasting their own time in the sense that they don't have the opportunity to make the decision on what they actually believe," Warren said.

All of the students we talked with agreed that millennials don't vote as consistently as other age groups.

However, Munoz didn't stop there. The TCU senior had solutions to the problem.

"Although everyone is really energized and excited to vote, the millennials really need that push," Munoz continued, "They need to, number one know the information regarding where they can register; where they can vote, and also they need to know the standings of the politicians."

People ages 18 to 32 want registering and voting to come with the same convenience as other commodities today. We might not see wide scale participation of millennials in elections until voting becomes as easy as opening a laptop.

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