‘America, in general, is uninformed’
Students respond to being called ‘foolish’
Luke Pryor Collegio Reporter
College students are “foolish,” vote as liberals, lack “life experience,” and “just vote their feelings,” according to New Hampshire Speaker of the House William O’Brien, in a recent speech.
O’Brien, a Republican, was speaking to a Tea Party group regarding proposed legislation in New Hampshire that would place more restrictions on local voting, and could potentially affect college students’ right to vote in the state. A video of the speech was taken by a staffer from the Democratic Party and later posted to YouTube.
Among the projected bills in New Hampshire is a statute that would only allow college students to vote in the town of their college if they or their parents had established residency there. Another of the bills would eliminate voter registration on the day of the election.
New Hampshire proposed the laws to prevent student votes in college towns from affecting the policies and laws of towns that they are likely to frequent only in their years as students, but would have an impact on the permanent residents of the town.
Gavin Kreidler, senior in political science, says that the proposed New Hampshire legislation might not be a bad thing.
“Their (the students’) real interest is not in the prolonged interest of the town,” Kreidler said. “They’re only going to be there six years, tops, and then they’re bailing. You could have an influx of another thousand voters in a town that you didn’t have before.”
Anthony Crespino, senior in accounting, says that he does not agree with the policies being proposed in New Hampshire and that they could potentially discourage many college students from voting at all.
“If they try to do domicile voting, where you have to vote where your parents have residency, that will cut a large portion of the young population’s vote out,” Crespino said. “Most college students won’t be able to or afford to go home to vote.”
Regarding O’Brien’s assumption that college students tend to vote more liberal, Kreidler says there might also be some truth to this.
“A lot of college kids do vote liberal, and as they do get older, get more money, they do start to get more fiscally conservative,” Kreidler said.
Trevor Elliott, senior in history education, says that he does not necessarily believe that college students tend to vote liberal more than conservative, and he attributed the success of the Democratic Party in recent elections, particularly in 2008, to the party’s ability to relate to a younger demographic.
“I feel many younger voters sided with the Democratic Party because they were being focused on and President Obama used many more media outlets than the Republican Party did,” Elliott said.
“In a generation where media and social networks play a large role in younger voters’ lives, it is the party that connects more through those outlets that can sway voters to one side or the other.”
Elliott says that while younger voters may not have as much life experience, they do not lack it altogether, and many of the classes they take can add a particular perspective that can be useful while voting.
“It is impossible to place younger voters in a category of being more uninformed than all other voters,” Elliott said. “College students are involved in many classes where politics, the economy, and other aspects of the government are being discussed.”
Kreidler says that although there are a number of college students who are not as informed in politics, this is true of any age group.
“I think you could say America, in general, is uninformed,” Kreidler said. “It’s not right to lump college kids in it at all. I think the majority of American people don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Crespino also says that O’Brien’s statements do not apply to all college students, and that he took offense to what was implied by them.
“The comments that he made about college students being ‘foolish’ is demeaning towards all college students,” Crespino said. “Some of the brightest minds are in college and will be the future of the country. Discouraging voting in young people isn’t a good idea considering that in 10-plus years they will be the majority of the work force.”