DALLAS TWP. — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have made it a priority to encourage young voters to participate in the electoral process, and a group of students at Misericordia University are heeding the call.
On election day, in the school’s American Government class, Assistant Professor of History and Government Dr. Rebecca Padot led an open discussion with her students. The class consisted of mostly freshmen, most voting for the first time. Edwardsville resident Dorian Budziak, 18, said when he voted he’d cast a vote against Hillary Clinton more so than a vote for Donald Trump.
“I’d rather have Trump,” Budziak said. “They’re releasing his locker room talk — which a lot of guys do locker room talk — and he’s mean at some points but I’d rather have someone whose mean and gossips and does some locker room talk than someone who’s a potential criminal.”
Budziak said he sees a potential Clinton presidency as a potential promotion for breaking the law during her time as secretary of state. Jonathan Juri, 18, agreed that Clinton can’t be trusted. Juri, who lives in Emerson, N.J. when he isn’t in school, wore a red, white and blue T-shirt featuring a large photo of Donald Trump riding a tank on the front. He said he voted for Trump because he’s a New York businessman and believes Trump is America’s best option.
“I’m voting basically on, I feel like Trump will bring jobs back to the country,” Juri said. “National security … I feel like he’s the strongest, you know? A strong boarder. Countries wouldn’t mess with us. We’d have a strong nation here.”
Stephanie Pagan, 24, agreed with Juri — she said respect can’t be bought and she doesn’t see other nations taking Clinton seriously. She said she takes Trump seriously because of his realistic viewpoints on pertinent issues that may not be simple to resolve.
“A lot of the times I feel like Hillary makes promises that aren’t somewhat realistic whereas Trump, if it’s not realistic he’ll probably not even get into” it, Pagan said. “He’ll leave it more ambiguous. He’s not going to get into how he’s going to implement it, but he’ll actually say how he feels about the topic so at least we know that part.”
Television spots supporting Clinton have taken aim at what a Trump vote may mean for the youth of America — particularly young women. Pagan, the mother of a 3-year-old daughter, said it’d be great for her daughter to grow up and enter school with a female as president, but a Trump presidency doesn’t take away the chance for her to promote empowerment.
“I feel like it’d be great to have my daughter feel that way, but Trump is not going to make a difference on my daughter,” Pagan said. “I will raise her to be the person that she is — not him.”
Budziak, Juri and Pagan are part of an American Government class at Misericordia University that joined forces with the school’s Government, Law and National Security Club this fall for the inaugural MU Leads the Vote initiative, a two-pronged attack on the university’s unregistered voter population. In February, a contingent of students attended National Non-partisan Voter Registration training and canvassed campus to register their peers. On Nov. 8, the class and club worked together to organize a shuttle from the school to the nearby Dallas Township polling place.
Social work major Bill Faust, 27, helped staff a table reminding students to get to the polls. He said he thinks it’s important because his peers need to “exercise their freedom and vote for what they think is best for our country.” He said he thinks they’ll take a number of issues into account before casting their vote.
“Loans is something that’s coming up, (they’re) probably looking at social security policies because I know that’s a big thing,” Faust said. “It’s really tough to say because I feel like this whole election has been the candidates bashing each other.”
Padot, who’s also the GLNS club’s faculty advisor, said MU Leads the Vote will be active on campus during elections. She said the pro-Trump sample size isn’t necessarily reflective of the university’s student body as a whole.
“I think that probably for my classes they’re either apathetic or for Trump, but I have also had strong Bernie supporters or strong Clinton supporters,” Padot said.
Padot said her second American Government class consists of older students — while younger Trump supporters discuss boarders and the Second Amendment, her older students talk about student loans and other higher education issues.
“Over time — four years here — they start to kind of branch out and have more interest in a multitude of issues,” Padot said.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts