October 2020 Volume 8, Issue 1
Students at SVCC don’t feel they can publicly express their political opinions on different issues in a polarized nation without being persecuted or made an outcast.
In a September 29th survey, The Skyhawk View surveyed 75 SVCC students and asked how comfortable they feel publicly expressing their political views. Many didn’t feel comfortable with 42.67% of students saying no, 36% said they do feel comfortable, and 21.33% said they were neutral.
When asked why they feel this way one student said, “The country is so divided.” Another student expressed their fear of violence by saying, “... we live in a time where you can get shot, beat, etc. for your beliefs.” One student observed that people may judge your character based on your political beliefs and that many are, “treating it like a personality trait.”Not all fear expressing their opinion as one student said, “I am proud to be able to have an opinion on the political agenda in America. I am not afraid to speak my mind and give my opinion.”
Some students may not want to express their opinions publicly but it seems most will be expressing those opinions where it matters, on the voting ballot. According to a survey from Chegg, 80% of college students plan to vote in this election. Previously only 65% of students have voted in other election cycles. Based on this, college students could be an important and silent demographic of voters in the 2020 election.When SVCC students were asked what issue matters most this election they chose the economy and jobs (40.54%). Some other issues included health care (20.27%), COVID-19 (13.51%), and climate change (13.51%). Outside of these issues, students said that the civil unrest and race relations in the country is on their mind as well.
An SVCC student had this to say about the economy, “The state of our economic growth is one-sided… Many people live paycheck to paycheck due to this.” Another student that decided healthcare is the most important issue believes, “The Healthcare industry in America is long overdue for reform. This is a service, and it's a service that a lot of people cannot afford.”Another topical issue on students’ minds is race and civil unrest. One student had this to say, “...I, like many other people, constantly see instances of police brutality on the news, social media, etc. to which truly little is being done to stop it. Also, I think prison reform is crucial because America’s for-profit prison system is based on a systemically racist model.”
COVID-19 is an important issue in this election. One student acknowledged that all the issues are important but felt that, “...COVID-19 serves itself as the most immediate threat.” However, similar observations were made about climate change with one student saying, “If we don't figure out how to quickly reduce the damage done to the Earth, then it won't be sustainable anymore. Which would defeat the purpose of solving all of the other issues.”
One SVCC student feels it is the division of the country that should be the main issue. This student attributed the divisiveness to social media. They had this to say, “The algorithms embedded within social media are designed to deliver more ‘news’ that affirm our existing beliefs. This perpetuates polarization and manipulates our information ecology.”SVCC students and college students across the nation may not want to talk about politics publicly but they will have their voices heard on election day.