Students at Grambling State University looked on this year’s presidential election – and races elsewhere – with varying degrees of interest for different reasons. Many gathered to watch election returns in Favrot Student Union on Tuesday night.
One of those who gathered in the Union was Michael Brown, a senior mass communication major from Atlanta, who took the act of voting very personally. “When I voted, I felt like I was a part of the actual Obama for America campaign.
“At that point, I wasn’t voting for someone just to say I voted. I was voting for someone who I believe can take this country past where we used to be.”
Arseneaux Robinson, a junior elementary education major from Clairton, Pa., said his grandfather was the person responsible for making him pay attention to the campaign and what the candidates’ plans were for moving the country forward. The first-time voter thought Obama’s campaign was information and well planned, while Romney “did not actually answer the questions regarding progress in the country.”
Robinson also paid attention to issues on the ballot elsewhere. “I’m not really supportive of this proposal,” he said of the gay marriage measures that were approved in Maine and Maryland. “But when thinking about it, the U.S. is a country of equality. If that’s what they want to do, then let them do it,” he said.
Robinson also kept an eye on those states that had marijuana legalization on the ballot. “This is a big step, given the fact that the U.S. grew hemp and used it as environmentally safe products. It was once legal; why not make it legal again?
“This will also give the government another way to start producing income,” Robinson said.
Tempestt McDuff, a 23-year-old junior mass communication major, said she was happy about the outcome of the presidential election but was not surprised.
“I didn’t run around screaming because, despite what the news and polls said, I just didn’t think Romney has a chance.
“I think the results in 2008 were far more emotionally charged for me. At that time, I had voted for the first time and it was a historic night.
McDuff said that although Tuesday’s election was historic as well, “that November night in 2008 will always be one for the books.”
Marcus Solomon, who is president of the Sophomore Class, attended the watch party in the Union. He noted that “the theater, atrium and Black and Gold Room were full.”
“I was glad to know that my vote mattered and I was a part of making history,” said Solomon, a marketing major from Kansas City, Mo.
Although interest was high on campus, not everyone was confident of the outcome.
“I was nervous in the beginning because Romney was ahead,” said Brittney Collins, a senior sports management major from Mandeville, “but I saw Cali hadn’t been recorded yet. Once I saw he (Obama) had Pennsylvania, I knew it was a wrap for Romney.”
Kinesiology/sports management major Preston Bowman said, “I feared for the future lives of the people of our country, including myself.” The sophomore from Jonesville, who is not a registered voter, said he was upset by the negative nature of both campaigns but was content with “leaving the last word to God.”
Ebony Myers, a junior marketing major from Dallas, said she watched the election closely because the outcome would impact her financial aid, her career and her children’s future.
“I was very nervous,” said the 19-year-old first-time voter who described herself as a concerned citizen. “However, I was sure Obama had a good chance of winning.”
Sophomore criminal justice major E’Vonne Gipson said she was nervous when she “saw a lot of red for Mr. Mitt coming in.”
“I prayed about me becoming a voter next term,” said the 19-year-old.
Tyrie Goodman of Houston likened the election to how he felt about graduating from high school, as in “I knew this day would come.
“Proud is the best way to describe my emotions,” said the junior mass communication major, who was voting in his first election.
Ciley Carrington, a senior art major from Los Angeles, did not vote Tuesday, although he did in the last presidential election. His eyes this time around were on Proposition 30 in his home state, which dealt with raising sales and income taxes to pay for schools.
“We wouldn’t need this extra money if we didn’t spend $578 million on one school back in 2010,” he said. “All I’m saying is if we spent our city money right, we wouldn’t have to go through the hardships of trying to find other ways to get money.”
Plano, Texas, native Lauren DeRamus, voted in 2008 for the first time and voted by absentee ballot this year. “I watched live coverage with my friends and classmates and via telephone with my parents.”
“This election meant a lot to me because of the history behind it. As an African American I am personally attached to the struggle of my ancestors to eventually come to this place,”
“I believe that President Barack Obama and his visions were best suited for the nation. I am most proud of the American people and the growth and progress that it represents.
“Despite racial issues, religious conflict and false accusations, a great Black man is in office again,” she said.
DeRamus also avidly followed the legalization of LGBT marriage and marijuana issues.
“No person’s personal religious (or other) sentiments should be able to dictate the rights of others. Even if you don’t agree, it is not your decision to make,” she said.
Regarding the legalization of marijuana, she said, “I am not a marijuana user, but I feel as if the effort taken by police to deter use and the jail space being taken up by users is wasteful.”
Bennie Peoples, a senior kinesiology/sports management major from Vicksburg, Miss., said he followed the election process closely but did not register in time to be able to vote. But he had advice for Democrats and Republicans. “If we as a United States are to come out of this slump, we will have to work together and top trying to stall each other’s efforts,” he said.
“I was very excited to see Obama win again,” said New Orleans native Whitney Bickham. “It felt kind of like a full circle moment because when I first started Grambling, he was voted president, and now that I’m about to graduate, he is voted president again for a second term.”
But there was a down side to the election for some students.
Toronto native Ryan Anthony is not a registered voter in the U.S., so he felt there was no reason for him to watch the election returns. “I feel like I had no say,” said the 19-year-old sophomore kinesiology major. “I could not affect the outcome.
Alexia Calton had another take on the election. The junior mass communication major from DeSoto, Texas, said she was not excited about election night, although she did watch the returns Tuesday night.
“Even though I am of age to vote and I can comprehend issues the candidates focus on, I do not feel ready to vote. I feel my first voting experience should be when I truly feel affected and moved by the campaign.
“I need a few more life experiences to genuinely feel like my voice should matter,” Calton said.