By Mark Wadland
More than half of FSU’s registered student voters still have not decided whom they will be voting for in the upcoming gubernatorial race, according to a recent Gatepost survey.
Tuesday, voters will head to the polls to select a new governor for Massachusetts. They will also elect candidates for other statewide and local offices and decide four ballot initiatives.
There are Ave candidates running for governor – Democrat Martha Coakley, Republican Charlie Baker, two Independents, Jeffrey McCormick and Scott Lively, and Evan Falchuk, who is running under the United Independent Party, which he founded.
The Gatepost conducted an unscientific survey from Oct. 4 to Oct. 17 in order to And out what students thought about the race and issues facing Massachusetts. Of the 400 students surveyed, 70 percent said they are registered to vote. Forty-one percent of those registered said they were still undecided about whom they will support.
Of the 60 percent of students surveyed who said they are planning to vote, 79 students, approximately 20 percent, said they will vote for Coakley and 54 students, 13.5 percent, for Baker. One hundred students, 40 percent, said they are unsure whom they will vote for, while 10 students, 2.5 percent, said “other.”
“Students believe that the issues do not relate to them and have no impact on their lives,” said Christopher Latimer, political science chair. “Students also feel that politicians are selfish and have different priorities from them. As a result, students do not pay attention to the issues and discussions that surround each of the political campaigns and candidates running for office.”
The survey focused on Coakley and Baker, as they are the primary contenders in the election.
Coakley is running on the platform that “she is a voice of fairness for those who need it most, and brings people together to drive innovative solutions to our biggest challenges,” according to her campaign website.
Baker believes that “Massachusetts residents deserve a state government that’s as thrifty, creative, and hard-working as they are,” according to his campaign website.
Coakley and Baker could not be reached for comment by press time.
Some students said they are not utilizing the resources available to them to stay informed about state politics.
Over the month of October, the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development as well as the Student Government Association sponsored tables at the entrance of the McCarthy Center to encourage students to register to vote. Students could also sign up to have absentee ballots sent to them, which would allow them to vote while living away from home.
Kendall Valente, SGA president, said the group’s goal was to spread awareness about the campaign by handing out T-shirts and stickers.
“That was the number one thing – getting students aware that there was an election because it’s not a presidential year,” said Valente. “That was our really big goal.”
Despite their efforts, some students still And voting inconvenient.
“I don’t have a way to get home to vote, is the problem,” said Geoffrey Ducharme, a senior math major. “They always put it in the middle of the week and I don’t have a car. Doing the absentee ballot takes too long.”
Kourtney Kacian, a junior biology major, said, “I don’t know how to get an absentee ballot, and I don’t go home often enough to get one. [I’m] not really [informed]. I didn’t try. I bet there’s a lot of ads on TV- I just don’t watch TV.”
Leah Forristall, a sophomore nutrition major, said, “The only reason I’m registered to vote is because [SGA] gave me a free T-shirt.”
Paolo BonTempo, a junior environmental studies major, said, “I remember voting for a lady in the primary election, I think. ... I only voted for her because my grandmother told me to. ... I’m not going to vote because I really just don’t care.”
Danielle Winters, who is not registered to vote, said she does not believe what she is being told by the candidates.
“I’m not really interested in voting because I don’t think that watching the politicians talk gives me any information about what’s actually happening and what they’re actually about, and what’s going to happen,” Winters said. “I think it’s all puppetry. I don’t trust the politicians.”
Latimer said these campaigns are not specifically “courting the younger demographic to vote.” He believes they are focusing on all voters rather than specific age groups.
“The campaigns are trying to get any individuals who are registered out to vote, which includes independents in Massachusetts,” said Latimer.
He added, “I am not sure any candidate, local or statewide, would spend a great deal of time and money attempting to get students interested in their candidacy and campaign if they are unlikely to vote.”
Jobs and the Economy
The Gatepost survey asked students to identify the most important issue facing the new governor. Thirty-eight percent of the 400 students surveyed agreed it is “job creation/ economic stability.”
Jaleel Wingard, a sophomore education major, said, “It would definitely help if there were more employment opportunities as a college kid. People want to go out. Life and fun costs money.”
According to Coakley’s campaign website, “The core foundation of the Coakley-Kerrigan growth strategy is to invest in our people. ... We know the best way to build an economy that is fair and prosperous, that creates opportunity for all and levels inequalities, is to invest in providing a world-class education and workforce training aligned with our new economy.”
Caitlyn Murray, a sophomore geography major, said, “State education and college fees [are the most important issues to address] because they’re out of hand.”
While Coakley explicitly addresses the relationship between education and the economy, Baker’s campaign is more focused on growing the economy by helping small businesses.
“ Charlie has proposed a series of economic initiatives aimed at increasing opportunity for
Massachusetts workers with a focus on growing small businesses, especially in those neighborhoods and regions of the state that are suffering from economic stagnation and high unemployment,” according to his campaign website.
In-state tuition for “illegal immigrants”
According to the Gatepost survey, 259 students, about 65 percent, do not support giving in-state tuition to “illegal immigrants” who attend college, whereas 135 students, roughly 34 percent, do support it, and six students, 1.5 percent, left the question blank.
“The goal is to get an education,” said Belwin Koudah, a junior business major. “Why wouldn’t you want to make in-state tuition low for them? In the end, we’re all chasing after one thing, and that’s to live a successful life after college.”
According to the National Immigration Law Center, “The latest version of the DREAM Act, also known as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, was introduced on May 11, 2011.”
The DREAM Act is a bill that offers an opportunity for permanent residency to immigrants who meet a number of prerequisites regarding their moral character and civil engagement.
Massachusetts’ current governor, Deval Patrick, announced in November 2012 that the commonwealth would enact a policy to join 12 other states throughout the country in allowing the children of “illegal immigrants” to attend Massachusetts colleges while paying in-state tuition.
In their Anal broadcasted gubernatorial debate last Tuesday, Baker and Coakley had opposing views on the issue.
Coakley showed her support of Patrick’s decision and is hoping to expand the number of Massachusetts residents who are granted access.
Baker, however, only supports the policy for those who have legal work permits and will be able to enter the work force following their studies.
Many students who said they are opposed to giving in-state tuition to “illegal immigrants” were unwilling to be quoted on the record.
“I believe that all individuals should have equal access [to education], but also education that is not free,” said Sean Vazquez, a junior criminology major. “It’s not necessarily a right, but a privilege.”
He added, “It’s an investment on our part that they’ll be [productive members of our society].”
Gay marriage and reproductive rights
Of the students surveyed, 94 percent said they support gay marriage, Ave percent said they do not and one percent left the question blank.
Nearly 93 percent of students surveyed said they support a woman’s right to choose, while 7 percent of students said they do not.
“We’re still in a transition period,” said Deanna Martinez, a freshman history major. “As much as it angers me [that the U.S. is still undecided on abortion and women’s rights], we’re all in this together, if you want to be trite.”
Both Coakley and Baker have addressed these topics in their campaigns.
“Martha is proud to have been part of the fight to ensure equal treatment for all,” according to her campaign website. “[She] is proud to have received the endorsement of MassEquality, but knows there is still much work to be done.”
For Baker, “the issue of marriage equality isn’t political, it’s personal. In 1983, Charlie’s brother Alex first came out to Charlie and his family. For the past ten years, Alex has been married to his husband Butch,” according to Baker’s campaign website.
His website states that he is pro-choice and will continue to supports a woman’s right to choose in Massachusetts.
Patrick Holden, a junior business major, said, “I am [registered to vote]. ... There’s no one I like. I’m not paying attention as much as I should. If I were to vote, I wouldn’t be making an educated choice.”