Southern Illinois U Students Show Interest In Election

This story was written by Jeff Engelhardt, Daily Egyptian
A country on the precipice of change.

The first black presidential candidate ready to take the nation's highest office.

A woman ready to make history as vice president.

It is a movie anyone would want to see, and that is why Southern Illinois University student Abdul Abulkhair said young people are eager to vote.

"This is Hollywood right now," Abulkhair, a senior from Saudi Arabia studying finance, said. "It's all over television, and the media is really making it seem like one of the most important elections in history, which it is."

According to a survey from Mother Jones, an investigative nonprofit magazine, not all students are as interested as Abulkhair.

The survey showed 85 percent of respondents thought students are less politically active today compared to the 1960s. Almost half of the college-student respondents said the activism has become digital.

Abulkhair said he has every intention of voting. He also said America's president affects much more than the United States.

President George Bush's foreign affairs policy is a main reason Abulkhair said he became involved in American politics.

"I was interested in how George Bush became president," Abulkhair said. "The next president will affect the rest of the world, so I want the best outcome for Saudi Arabia and the U.S."

Gabrielle Yokley, a freshman from Bellville, Ill., studying pre-law, said she understands why people think this generation is apathetic but believes this election will ignite the fire seen in past generations of college students.

"Either way we will have the first black president or female vice president, so how could you not be excited?" Yokley said. "Whoever wins, hopefully Obama, could shape the future of the country for a long time."

Yokley said she always had some interest in politics, but it was Obama's bid that inspired her to become more involved.

Even students who cannot vote have taken an interest in the election.

Fresnel Houecande, a senior from Benin, Africa, studying accounting, will not be able to vote because he is not a U.S. citizen, but that has not stopped him from staying updated about the presidential race. He said he often has political discussions with his friends and is glad the candidates in this election have inspired his friends who can vote to participate.

"I am not able to vote, but I know people who would not usually vote have been interested in this election and want to vote," Houecande said. "I am happy to see people interested and listening to the news."

Houecande said he hoped the interest from college students will continue into future elections but expects the candidate and situation of the country to affect the level of interest.

Demetrous White, student trustee, said students should be passionate about voting regardless of the circumstances. While he said he got involved with politics to make a change, he said voting is a form of respect.

"I know there are people who fought hard and died for my right to vote, so I will always vote," White said. "And how can you complain about the president if you don't vote? Not voting is giving a vote away."
  • CBSNews

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