Three students shared their perspectives on the presidential elections in this semester’s first ‘Spotlight On…” event, a panel discussion on the 2008 presidential elections. Each student analyzed an array of issues from the perspective of an informed but relatively young political participant.

‘We certainly have enough fodder,” Dean of Students Matthew Burns, the panel moderator, said.

On the panel were senior Ashley Anderson, president of the Black Students’ Union, sophomore Jeff Rizzo, fundraising chair of College Republicans and junior and Associate Chief Justice of the All-Campus Judicial Council Trevor Kellogg.

The event took place in the Welles-Brown Room of Rush Rhees Library last Thursday afternoon and drew a small gathering of staff, but few students. At the start of the discussion, Burns prompted the panelists to share their insights as young voters on this year’s voter turnout and the historic importance of the election.

Rizzo believed turnout in this election spiked because young voters now easily access information and get involved using the Internet and television. Kellogg discussed Facebook to exemplify candidates befriending the youth. Anderson said that the organizations she belongs to, such as BSU, are urging black students to vote.

The students listed a range of topics as important issues to young voters. Their answers included the environment, economy, Iraq War and health care. Burns zeroed in on the economy and asked the students what specifically was worrisome about the economic crisis.

Anderson believed some college students might feel the economic downturn through their parents’ losses. Kellogg added that students might find it hard to find jobs after college, making it difficult to pay off federal loans.

‘If we continue like this we’ll need the government to bail us out,” Kellogg said. ‘It’s just a percentage, of a percentage, of a percentage of a bailout.”

Anderson later echoed her beliefs on the importance of social issues in the elections. When asked about how the United States should now approach Iraq, Anderson replied that the troops should be withdrawn in order to focus on domestic issues.

‘We have to kind of change our focus,” she said. ‘We put so much energy into things that don’t matter.”

Burns then followed up, asking Anderson what specific issues are relevant.

Anderson stressed the importance of the abortion debate and lesbian, gay and bisexual issues. Rizzo advocated that social issues should not be heavily dictated by the national government.

‘I think [abortion is] a hands-off issue. I don’t see how it’s the president’s prerogative to control that,” he said.

Burns also addressed other hot-button issues, including the economy and Iraq War. Rizzo is a proponent of a free market unfettered by government regulations. Kellogg argued for regulation in the financial sector. Kellogg also firmly supported a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and later added that troops should be directed toward Darfur and Afghanistan. Burns concluded by asking the panelists to determine what advice they would give their peers this year.

‘I think it’s necessary to pick what’s true to your values,” Rizzo said.

Leber is a member of the class of 2011.

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