by Jacqueline Stoughton
NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Students at the University of New Hampshire are rallying their support for Bernie Sanders the weekend before the primary voting event in their swing state.
With the most recent Democratic debate last Thursday hosted right on campus, students were able to get involved in the election season experience in full.
“There was a good turnout at the Democratic debate. There was a lot of interest in getting a ticket which was done by a lottery system,” said Sam Rabuck, the executive editor of the The New Hampshire, UNH student-run campus newspaper. “There’s a lot of political interest on this campus.”
Students showed up with overwhelming amounts of support for Sanders, but not so much for Clinton.
“He [Sanders] did a good job in the debate catering to what college students want to hear, a reformed education system, someone they believe in to promote fairness, people tend to trust and believe in him,” said Rabuck.
Similar to Central Connecticut State University, a lot of those who are for Sanders would also be okay with supporting Hillary Clinton if she were to win the Democratic nomination.
“The fact that she’s a woman is big we want to see a woman win, but that shouldn’t be only what they vote on. She has a realistic plan for education and stays within the reality of what’s possible,” said Sam Barrett, 19-year-old UNH economics student.
Rabuck explains many political figures this election year have showed up for events at the UNH campus, including Sanders, Clinton, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Martin O’Malley and Jeb Bush – all of their events were very well attended by students.
“They’re different [in some policies] but they’re both Democrats. If you like one you like the other, there’s similarities,” said Sarah Novia, 19-year-old UNH Human and Family Development student.
During the fall 2012 elections, Rabuck said UNH provided its students with buses to transport voters to polling stations. Classes were also cancelled for the day in an attempt to encourage everyone to place their vote.
“For national politics, students voice their opinions quite a bit,” Rabuck said.
“Everyone likes him [Sanders], he has a lot to say we want to hear,” said Barrett. “Like reduced education. I don’t know how well they’ll work out but he has a lot of good ideas.”
Barrett explained that the quality and cost of education are very important for young voters with the thought of student loan debt always looming in the back of every students’ mind. She said for a politician to say he’ll help with that, grabs every student voters attention.
“[Sanders] has done a good job playing to what students want. UNH is the most expensive state schools for in-state tuition, so a lot [of students] buy into education reform and reconstructing the economy,” said Rabuck.
“[Students] want someone untraditional and will give it to them not like it’s just political rhetoric and someone that breaks the status quo,” said Rabuck. “I think people have been unhappy with the past eight to 12 years, [Sanders] makes change seem possible; he’s progressive.”
Of course education reform is what proves to be the most important policy for college students, others like Kaleena Gulledge, 19-year-old UNH environmental conservation major, said students also want someone they can connect with and understand where they came from and where they want to go.
“To me, environment issues [are important], taxes are important for post college,” Gulledge said.
For Novia, policy issues such as environmentalism and foreign policies are most important to her.
“I care about economic policies too, but I don’t understand them. Bernie is likable and makes it easier to understand these issues,” she said.
“[Sanders] is doing a lot by focusing on what we care about, he’s in-tuned and invested, talking and advocating for college students,” said Novia. She explained that compared to the other candidates, it seems as though Sanders is out there the most meeting students and finding out what they want and what’s important to them directly from the source.
Although New Hampshire is a swing state that typically leans Democratic, according to current primary polls for the Republican side, Donald Trump is trailing ahead in New Hampshire.
“He’s the number one Republican in New Hampshire. Half the students here say no to Trump, they hear a lot of BS from him,” said Barrett. “For now, what he’s saying is doing a great job of getting our attention, but it doesn’t seem realistic.”
“The name and what’s associated with him make him popular. People know Trump as a celebrity. He has good ideas, but doesn’t know how to deliver,” said Gulledge. “He has to show that he’ll do what he says he’ll do. He can’t just talk the talk he has to walk the walk too.”
“[Trump is] someone different than the same names, it makes me want to listen,” said Novia. Although Novia pays attention to what he has to say, she said this differentiating quality doesn’t necessarily make him better than the average candidates.