Washington initiative proposes block on gun ownership in cases of potential harm.
SPOKANE, Wash. – An initiative on the ballot in Washington this November would temporarily suspend individuals who are deemed a threat to themselves or others from accessing or owning firearms.
Initiative 1491, primarily supported by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, allows both families and law enforcement to request Extreme Risk Protection Orders from a Washington court. To obtain these orders, those who feel threatened must present documented evidence showing signs of domestic violence or suicidal or abnormal behaviors in an individual to Washington courts. If the request is approved, the individual who the petition was issued against could be suspended from owning or accessing guns for one year, according to the Alliance for Gun Responsibility website.
Several employees of Sportsman’s Warehouse located in Spokane, WA, refused to comment on the initiative or speculate how it would affect its business, as did employees from a locally operated gun shop, Mountain Shadows Arms.
However, a Whitworth University student who is Washington resident and rifle owner said both sides of the issue have solid argumentation. He said there may be some circumstances where a gun should be taken away from its owner, but is hesitant to fully support the legislation.
“If a certain family keeps getting threatened by a person they can have the law step in and restrict that person from getting a gun,” he said. “I can also see it the other way around though, it depends on what the qualifications are for the judge to restrict that person.”
Aside from his questions about how the court would measure intent to harm, he said that as a law abiding citizen, the legislation could make it feel like someone is taking away someone else’s constitutional right: “It would feel like someone is breathing over my shoulder a little more,” he said.
Dr. Julia Stronks, a Whitworth University political science professor who specializes in constitutional law, said the initiative has raised issues and started conversations about gun control in Washington. Regardless of whether or not it passes it has already done some good for the state.
If it does pass, it gives both law enforcement and families another tool to monitor claims of domestic violence, Stronks said.
“This is a ballot that the entire United States is watching, because a lot of other states do not have this initiative,” she said. “The people that have tried to work for this initiative have been trying to get it on the ballot for years and years and years. This has been the first time that they got enough money, enough support, and enough signatures to get it to the initiative stage.”
Despite the numerous supporters in the state of Washington, if the initiative passes, it will immediately be challenged as a violation of the Second Amendment by activists, Stronks said.
Professor Stacy Keogh George, an assistant professor of sociology at Whitworth University, said new legislation restricting gun ownership will lead to frustration among gun owners. She is the wife of a gun owner who hunts game frequently.
“Any piece of legislation that prohibits gun access is seen as offensive to these folks,” Keogh George said. “They consider themselves very ethical and responsible gun owners, so pieces that are prohibiting anyone’s access to guns they see as an affront to hunting, their hobby and to some people, their identity.”
In terms of decreasing incidences of gun violence, both professors said that the ballot measure could be effective and pass in other states if successful.
Washington may be a catalyst on this issue, as only three other states have similar legislation, according to Stronks. The increased number of murders and worry about police officers killing people who they thought were armed may have influenced the decision to put the initiative on the ballot “because there is more attention to this issue now,” she said.
If gun-related suicides and domestic violence claims decline, however, the initiative could have a ripple effect on gun laws in the entire United States, Stronks said.
“If this passes, I would expect to see it pass next year and in the next five years in many other states,” Stronks said, calling the legislation one of the best-written initiatives on the issues of domestic violence and intent to harm that has been proposed.
Many people believe that the initiative has the potential to decrease gun-related incidences of domestic violence or intent to harm and a step in the right direction. One question raised about it is how intent to harm will be measured.
The initiative is supported by many mental and public health officials who say people exhibit outward signs of violence and it will be measured in that way. Other qualifications include specific documentation and evidence.
The process to obtain an Extreme Risk Protection Order would be similar to a restraining order, Stronks said, but Keogh George said it may be more complicated due to the ambiguity of intent to harm.
“I’m not sure how it would be documented,” Keogh George said. “That gives a lot of power to the person who says you are fit or unfit, especially since there are a lot of stereotypes and stigma towards developmental disorders and the presumption that people with developmental disorders are violent, which is totally unfair to that person.”
October 14, 2016
Civil rights activists have used different methods of protest in an attempt to push American society to hear the voices of the unheard.
Recently such as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick opting to sit during the national anthem to protest police brutality against minorities led to other professional athletes demonstrating a similar type of protest during the national anthem.
“When we think of political reality in terms of race there are a lot of other dimensions. There’s prisons, poverty, housing, education, jobs, and even segregation is still a challenge,” said Dr. Julia Stronks, a political science expert.
The challenges alluded to by Dr. Stronks are those that have led to the rise of civil rights movements to combat such issues. Arguably the most notorious movement taking place in the American society today is the “Black Lives Matter” which began in response to the shooting of Trayvon Martin back in 2012 when the 17-year old Martin was gunned down by George Zimmerman.
The Black Lives Matter movement, similar to Kaepernick’s method of protest, has drawn a great deal of controversy. Critics of the movement claim that Black Lives Matter advocates in its slogan the marginalization of other ethnicity groups as critics claim it suggests black lives matter more so than others.
“I think most don’t understand that these issues we are seeing (police brutality, poverty, 2 criminal justice systems, etc.) are nothing new.” said Dr. Khalid White, a San Jose City College ethnic studies Professor and Harvard graduate. “They date back hundreds of years in this nation’s history. What is new is the social media tweets, pictures, viral videos, etc. that are helping to further expose these injustices. Placing these images in the hands, screens, laps of the general public is what is new with the advent of our reliance upon social media. So, news spreads faster, images are more graphic, there’s less censorship through the social media outlets.” Dr. White added.
Many Americans perceive Black Lives Matter as a movement that seeks to empower African-Americans and people of color which generates confusion amongst the society on whether or not to support the movement.
“The biggest challenge I’ve come across when it comes to the support of Black Lives Matter is that as a white-male I feel as if nowadays the society is trying to make the white community as a whole feel that we are all contributing to the problem of racism and that might be true for some, but not for all of us or even most of us,” said Ian Goben, a Caucasian Washington native and former Whitworth Student.
“I think it has to be very difficult for African-Americans to deal with some of the challenges the American society poses and no doubt changes need to happen. But then you look on the internet, and in the media, it would seem like a lot of the times Black Lives Matter looks to make a white person, such as myself, seem racist. I’m just very torn on the matter, but I sincerely hope some good changes come soon for the African-American community.” Goben added.
Goben’s view may not uncommon. However, those who advocate for Black Lives Matter believes that such a position may not be the best way to look at the movement.
“The Black Lives Matter movement is important and it has raised some important questions that perhaps didn’t receive enough attention. Black Lives Matter movement has done a lot of wonderful things, but if people only focused on the pockets where the movement has gotten into some trouble then it would be easy to become discouraged about it,” said Dr. Stronks.
“I think that the right thing to do for us as a society is to support Black Lives Matter because how can you not?” said Tarek Hawas, an avid advocate for Black Lives Matter. “Black Lives Matter is just trying to be a voice for those whose voices are not heard. Most of these people just want to be acknowledged by the society ‘Like hey! We are here! We deserve to be treated better!’ and that’s what I think most people who are against Black Lives Matter fail to understand.” Hawas added.
As for the Whitworth community, the question becomes how should Christians respond to these controversial racist issues? More importantly perhaps, how should white Christians respond to this?
“For starters, I think the church instinctively takes the side of victims, which in this case would be those who are marginalized by social injustices. Christians are individuals who have heard a message of love from God so in turn it is important that we learn how to listen,” said Whitworth theology Professor Adam Neder.
“Some white Christians believe that it is their job to fix the problems, but that is not necessarily the best way to think about it. Maybe a better approach might be to listen to, and support, those who are marginalized and understand what they do and their initiatives.” Neder added.
Whitworth community reflects on the role of incumbency and living in a red district in regards to the district representative election
October 14, 2016
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is a five time incumbent, and currently running for her sixth term as representative of Washington State’s fifth Congressional district. This district encompasses eastern Washington.
McMorris Rodgers is the chair of the House Republican Conference. McMorris Rodgers is the 4th highest-ranking Republican in the House and in Congress she is the highest-ranking woman.
This is the same woman that endorsed a presidential candidate known for his sexist comments. In the words of Whitworth political science professor Kathryn Lee, “His misogynistic comments are just one part. For another thing, she has a child with a disability yet Trump has publically made fun of a reporter with a disability.”
Not only does McMorris Rodgers have a son who was born with Down Syndrome, she is co-chair of the Down Syndrome Congressional caucus. On her official “Meet Cathy” page, it states “Since Cole was born with Trisomy 21, Cathy has become a leader in the disabilities community.”
It is those inconsistencies with her values that makes people worried. To put it simply, Lee says “Her values don’t match her vote.”
When asked why McMorris Rodgers would support Trump despite these clear controversies, Whitworth University senior and political science minor Andrew Swanson had some interesting input on the idea of keeping a Republican Front. He pointed out that “Her character comes into question if she is going to go back on her values to keep the Republican front.”
Furthermore, it is this endorsement of Trump, that opponent Joe Pakootas is using as one of his main points against Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
Joe Pakootas and Cathy McMorris Rodgers ran against each other in 2014, and Pakootas lost with about 40% of the votes. Statistically this year is going better from Pakootas. However, Lee weighed in on this election year saying that although “there is movement caused by Trump, when push comes to shove Pakootas still won’t win.”
The main cause of McMorris Rodgers’ election success and predictions to win is her incumbency.
Kathryn Lee went on to explain that in politics, “being an incumbent is the most important factor.”
Additionally, Lee brought up the idea of Franking Privelages, and that because of McMorris Rodgers’ incumbency, on top of her fundraising budget, she has money given to her by congress for pamphlets, and ads and calls.
Another factor which both Swanson and Lee noted for having an impact on the outcome of this district election was that the fifth district of Washington is primarily republican, or red.
Lee did go on to admit that it might be a closer race this year, but that Joe Pakootas is still a Democratic candidate in a red area.
Andrew Swanson elaborated on these factors, “being an incumbent puts you in advantage and so does being a republican incumbent in a red district.
To further explain the implications of money in this race, Swanson added to his comment about the advantages of being a republican incumbent in red district. He clarified that he meant “a red political district, not a red light district, even though she is prostituting herself to the corporations that fund her campaign.”
October 14, 2016
Local small business owners and Whitworth officials say that Hillary Clinton’s proposed $15 federal minimum wage could cost jobs for Spokane’s small businesses and Whitworth University if congress approves it.
In the first presidential debate, Clinton said people should have “paid family leave, earned sick days, affordable child-care and debt-free college,” and increasing to a $15 minimum wage is the way to do that. “We are going to do it by having the wealthy pay their fair share and close the corporate loopholes,” Clinton said. Her proposed $15 minimum wage is complicated, and highly differs from Trump’s stance that minimum wage should remain the same.
Washington state has the eighth-highest state minimum wage of $9.47, and yet that doesn’t begin to compare to Seattle, where a $15 city minimum wage will be phased in over the next few years.
“It is a short-sighted goal of workers trying to get more money when in the long run it will cost the infrastructure of cities more,” said a minimum wage worker in Seattle.
While the bustling, large city of Seattle may be able to handle a $15 minimum wage, Spokane may not adjust as easily to such a change, say local sources.
Michael Hulse, cafe and events manager for the Service Station cafe, said the federal minimum wage increase to $15 would be too much for the Spokane Service Station cafe, where employees make a little over the current state minimum wage of $9.47. The Service Station cafe pays its employees minimum wage, and increases the pay of employees’ who have prior experience, and gives raises to employees who work for the company for a lengthy time.
That is how Hulse says it should be. Hulse said $15 an hour needs to be “earned, not just handed, or else we are going to create a lazy society.”
To compensate for the increase in minimum wage, the Service Station would have to raise prices by 50 percent, Hulse said, but not many people are going to pay $9 for a coffee.
“We would have to seriously look into closing the cafe,” Hulse said. “We hope and pray the proper individual is put in place for the presidency,” Hulse said, “and that we don’t have to make drastic changes.”
There are differing opinions on how a $15 minimum wage would impact small businesses, as barista Alysha Chapman at Blissful Blends coffee shop said, “everything is going to inflate, so it doesn’t matter.”
If it were implemented, Clinton’s proposed $15 federal minimum wage would affect Whitworth University. Due to the minor wage increases over the past couple years, the Associated Students of Whitworth University had to increase its budget for the 2016-2017 school year, said ASWU president Breanna Lyons.
Students take on the additional fee, and pay $240 per year in AWSU fees, rather than $230 per year. While that amount may be a minimal increase, an increase to a $15 minimum wage would have significantly larger repercussions for ASWU and Whitworth University as a whole, Lyons said.
ASWU would lose many positions, Lyons said. There are 25 positions in ASWU paid minimum wage, while four executive positions are compensated slightly higher. ASWU doesn’t have the budget to compensate for a 58 percent increase in minimum wage to employ 25 positions. The ASWU budget is $520,000, divvied up by what the budget committee prioritizes. ASWU members would have to present to the board explaining why their position should stay, and tough decisions would have to be made, Lyons said.
A loss in ASWU positions would not only mean fewer opportunities for student employment and paid leadership opportunities, but Whitworth would also lose out on what those senators, coordinators or media positions bring to the campus, Lyons said.
A $15 minimum wage increase would greatly impact Whitworth University’s student employment and work study program, assistant director of student employment Laurie Armstrong said, noting that 700 students are paid each pay date during the academic year for on-campus work and 50-60 students for off-campus state work study.
Most students employed by Whitworth receive the current minimum wage of $9.47. With a rate of $15 per hour, the Whitworth Board of Trustees would have to increase the budget to keep the same number of students employed, Armstrong said.
“If they decided that funding was a priority, then the next phase would be where those funds would come from,” Armstrong said.
The number of work-study positions would have to be reduced because there is only a certain amount of money from the state government (which funds off-campus jobs), and federal government (which funds on-campus jobs), to pay student workers, Armstrong said. Fewer students would get work-study jobs because the funds won’t go as far, unless the state and federal programs increase that total allocation, she said.
“As long as I have been here, that amount has never increased,” Armstrong said. “In fact, the state work study has decreased because the state reduced the amount of work study funds available for all colleges.”
Even if the Board of Trustees agrees to increase the budget for student employment, that could lead to increased tuition costs, still negatively impacting the students.
“Ultimately the customer, or the student, is going to pay somehow because costs have to get increased in order to absorb that,” Armstrong said.
October 14, 2016
Violent crime has increased significantly in the past year. According the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, this year there have been 307 more homicides, 1,000 more robberies, almost 2,000 more aggravated assaults and more than 600 non-fatal shootings when compared to crime statistics in 2015.
These alarming statistics indicate a growing problem with crime in the United States that the next president will have to address. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s stances on how to control this increase in violence have sparked a contentious debate in this year’s presidential election.
These numbers have also provoked questions for students at Whitworth University regarding what steps the university could take to make the campus safer. According to a Survey Monkey poll of 72 students, approximately 42 percent of participants said that Whitworth should be doing more to make students feel safe on campus.
“I think violence on campus is not often addressed,” senior Cheyenne Gibson said. “Whitworth could host a seminar each semester which brings awareness to the issue of assault because education is a powerful weapon against violence. In the meantime, students need to take initiative and educate themselves.”
In 2015, Gibson was in her home across the street from the Whitworth soccer field in the evening when a fellow female student was assaulted while walking home. Gibson was shocked when little was done by the university in response to the attack. Gibson recalls that the only information she received about the attack was a campus-wide email containing few specific details and providing “commonsense” ways for students to stay safe, Gibson said.
In the email, students were told to take precautions such as not walking alone at night, parking in well-lit spots, always being aware of their surroundings and not being distracted by things such as cell phones.
In an interview with campus security supervisor Jacquelyn McCord, she wanted to remind students that if they ever feel unsafe or uncomfortable, they can call campus security who will give them a safe ride to and from anywhere on campus. McCord also stated that said rides are a privilege students should not abuse, even as it starts to get colder outside.
According to the 2016-2017 student handbook, Whitworth is a weapons-free campus. “Firearms, fireworks, explosives and explosive devices, and other weapons are prohibited anywhere on property owned or leased by Whitworth,” the handbook said. Washington is one of 18 states in which schools are allowed to determine their own campus weapons policy.
The majority of students do not have a problem with the school’s rule against guns and firearms on campus, McCord said.
“It has not been a problem,” McCord said. “I have not had students in my office saying, ‘I need to have my gun.’”
The handbook states that the term “weapons” includes, but is not limited to, “flammable gasses/materials or components that could become explosive, firearms, pellet/BB guns, paintball guns, home-manufactured cannons, bows and arrows, martial-arts devices, switchblade knives and other knives with blades longer than three inches.”
While this narrows down the list of common self-defense items allowed on campus, this brings the question of what students can use to protect themselves on campus.
“College-age women are four times more likely to be assaulted [than other age groups],” Michelle Butler said. “We need to teach people to be prepared and aware without being paranoid.”
Finding ways to protect themselves while remaining within the parameters of the university’s weapons policy is something students must do.Butler feels strongly about helping to protect women and works to do that as a local distributor for Damsel in Defense, a company that looks to arm individuals across the nation with alternative tools for protection that are less lethal than traditional weapons.
Sock it to Me is one example of a product that students may find useful to protect themselves. Sock it to Me is a durable, pointed, aluminum tool which attaches to any key chain and can be used to strike against a potential attacker. Unlike pepper spray, it is less likely to negatively affect the person attempting to defend themselves and is easily disguised as a decorative key chain accessory.
While some may think only women need to worry about arming themselves against potential attackers, one out of every ten rape victims are male. Men can also benefit from knowing how to protect themselves.
Individuals can also invest in more common self-defense tools such as Mace and pepper spray, which range in price from around $10 to $40 and can be found at stores such as Walmart.
There are a number of locations that teach self-defense classes in Spokane and surrounding areas. Krav Maga Spokane teaches individuals a form of self-defense popularized by the Israeli military that uses instinctual movements and reactions to attack and counterattack attackers quickly and efficiently.
Senior Aislinn Noone recently received her yellow belt from Krav Maga Spokane.
“Since I am only one out of two girls in level two classes, I am usually sparring with guys that have at least 50-100 pounds on me,” Noone said. “When I am able to take one of them down, it makes me feel prepared against attackers that haven’t had any kind of training in the streets.”
According to the same Survey Monkey poll mentioned above, 45.07 percent of students have felt unsafe on campus on at least one occasion. In addition, 29.58 percent of people who completed the survey reported either they or someone they know has been assaulted on school grounds, highlighting that campus safety may be a larger issue than many may think.
While Whitworth’s campus is generally a safe place, finding ways to protect yourself can always be beneficial. Victims are rarely prepared and finding ways to help yourself in an unexpected situation could save your life.
October 14, 2016
Tensions exist regarding the role of Christian faith and American politics in the current presidential campaign season. Both major party candidates align themselves with the Christianity; Donald Trump with Presbyterians and Hillary Clinton with Methodists. Evaluating candidates’ religious affiliations in accordance with the voters’ own political beliefs challenges Christian voters by forcing them to think critically about how their belief systems interact and how that should influence the way in which they vote.
The November presidential election is approaching and Whitworth University, as a private Presbyterian institution, is examining the intersection of faith and politics and what it means for them in order to decide how to cast their ballot, taking into consideration that Trump is representing the Presbyterian faith. Earlier this year, on May 7, Trump held a rally at the Spokane Convention Center. The community turned out in both support and protest of the event.
In a 2015 open letter to Donald Trump, the then Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Reverend Gradye Parsons stated that he, “would like to share with [Donald Trump] the Presbyterian policies on refugees and immigrants…I hope [Donald Trump] will find this helpful. I especially hope it will inform [him] on [his] policies going forward.”
Junior political science major Peter Schoening believes that religion can justify political beliefs on both sides, but Christians should abstain from voting a particular way.
“Don’t vote for Trump,” Schoening said.
Jesus would be a Democrat, Schoening said, because the party emphasizes doing what’s good for the majority of people rather than for people who have the most power or money.
That Christians should vote in ways which promote the common good and help the less fortunate is generally agreed upon by Whitworth professors.
“There’s a strong mandate in the Bible,” history professor Dale Soden said, “to love the Lord your God with all your heart and love thy neighbor.”
Discerning which policies promote loving God and loving your neighbor is the challenge of voting as a Christian, Soden said.
“When you ask me how should Christians vote, I don’t know how they should vote but I know that I think that they should have the common good in mind when they vote,” political science professor Kathryn Lee said
Voting is a mechanism that people can use to ask about the voices of those who are on the margins and who are likely not to vote who it is harder for them to vote, Lee said.
“Voting is not just for me and my interests,” Lee said. “Voting is a mechanism by which we think of ‘We the People.’”
Finding the best policies that will help people, while using religion as a lens and social science research to support it, is one way that Lee’s faith and political identity interact.
“Religion is a lens—not the lens—a lens that I use for me to think: How can human beings flourish, where can we help people?” Lee said. “When should that be done by the private sector and when should that be done by the government?”
Voting habits exhibit the interaction of political and religious identities. According to the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of adults say they are less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who does not believe in God.
“Both religion and politics teach and guide a society for what they should and shouldn’t do,” sociology professor Stacy Keogh George said, adding that they might look like different institutions but they have similar functions.
From a sociological perspective, religion is a social institution meant to guide morality and give people a foundation to invest in the society in which they are embedded in, Keogh George said, while politics is a social institution that’s supposed to govern and help guide morality in a community and create laws that say what you can and can’t do.
Religion and politics are different institutions; laws exist in the United States to ensure the separation of church and state in this country. The division of the two institutions brings the question of whether an individual can separate their political and religious beliefs.
“I think anybody that is a true believer in whatever religion they’re a part of—that’s difficult to do because if that is really your guiding faith in life, that’s going to also guide how you vote,” Keogh George said.
Most people believe they can separate those identities, theology professor Jeremy Wynne said, but integration of those identities should be the goal, to be consistent.
“If we’re to be consistent, we’ll never be able to really commend or prescribe ways of acting together and towards one another that violate what we think human beings ultimately are,” Wynne said.
Political science professor Patrick Van Inwegen makes a distinction in the discussion of faith and politics: that religion is an institution where faith is personal to the individual. An individual can separate religion from politics, but not faith from politics.
“If we’re talking about religion in that sense, I think people can and often do separate [religion from politics],” Van Inwegen said. “If we’re talking more about faith and we’re talking more about the individual, I think it’s less likely those things get separated.”
This separation of religion and politics along with the integration of faith and politics means if an individual’s church holds a view on a policy, they may disagree with that view and hold the opposite political belief. The political belief is based on faith.
Faith is something personal to every individual, whereas religion is something people share. Even though people often do try to separate those things, people should evaluate things based on their values, Van Inwegen said.
“Hopefully what’s happening is that people’s faith and values are shaping what they think is important,” Van Inwegen said. “Sometimes that aligns with their religious affiliations and sometimes it aligns with the political realm.”
Regardless of the challenge presented to Christian voters regarding balancing faith and political beliefs when voting, the presidential election is fast approaching and Christians will choose which candidate they want to support.
SPOKANE, Wash.—The 2016 presidential election leaves many Whitworth students more confused than inspired. Many students are left indecisive about who to vote for—if they should even vote at all.
“There’s a split in thinking—our civic duty lies in voting or our civic duty lies in not voting because we don’t like the candidates,” Whitworth junior, Miriam Hamilton said.
The option to be a responsible citizen and vote is a wonderful opportunity, Hamilton said. But, not every student feels as enthusiastic about voting in the upcoming election as Hamilton.
“The best way to describe how I feel about the election is indifferent,” said Nicolle Cummins, a junior at Whitworth University. “There is more drama than politics.”
The upcoming presidential election is known to have two of the most disliked candidates in American history: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The first presidential debate between the two candidates had a record number of viewers—84 million.
Although the debate was popular, viewers were left confused about where the candidates stand on specific issues or about who won, thus makes voting between the two an interesting first presidential election for many Whitworth students.
“I have been trying to become more informed about candidates,” Hamilton said. “Right now, I don’t know who I’m going to vote for, but I am still going to vote.”
Millennials, citizens ages 18-35, now comprise more of the population than the
Baby Boomer generation. While candidates actively try to persuade Millennials to vote, there may be more to it than getting citizens to the polls.
“I think a lot of people do not like the Democrat or Republican candidates, therefore, they do not want to vote,” Elizabeth Ruthven said.
Many Millennials do not want to vote and those who do have trouble settling on a qualified candidate, said Ruthven, a junior education major.
Undecided voters find the candidates corrupt because their actions do not match their words, said Cummins. According to Pew Research, in July 2016, less than 40 percent of either party found their own candidate to be honest.
Whitworth students who want to vote may be troubled by the candidates, but other factors contribute, Hamilton said.
“It has to do with technology,” Hamilton said. “We’ve found other ways to make our voices heard and I think the importance of our democracy has been lost in the crowd of this new technological boom.”
Social media such as Facebook and Twitter let users share their opinions and feel heard, Hamilton said.
In addition to creating a platform for citizens to share their political opinions, social media allow candidates to interact more frequently and with more breadth than in previous years.
Students go to the internet to find information they will need to vote. News articles, social media, political websites, and debates are easily accessible and frequented by students, Katlin Bowers said.
News sources like NPR and BBC are simple and factual news sources that present information in a fairly non-biased way, said Bowers, a sophomore and co-president of the political science club at Whitworth.
Additionally, Countable is a phone app that allows users to check in on upcoming, current, and past legislation, Bowers said. Other apps like Politifact, Pulitzer prize winner, and Pollenize help fact check and report unbiased reviews of candidates’ stance on policies. Such apps may engage Millennials better than traditional resources.
While technology can help when tool approaching election time, some students still feel overwhelmed by the number of messages published on the internet, many of which are biased, Cummins said.
“I feel more informed on a surface level, but not in-depth,” Cummins said.
Amidst the technological push, students seek discussion-based ways to acquire information about policies and candidates, Hamilton said.
“Realistically, how I get most of my information is conversations I have with other people,” Hamilton said. “I think the most helpful conversations I have are with people who I feel would be helpful if I were to ask questions.”
While young Whitworth students are passionate, sometimes that passion creates a false polarization of political ideas turns others away from engaging in political conversations, Hamilton said.
Although some voters are turned off by intense political conversation, lack of time is the primary reason nonvoters do not vote, according to Pew Research. Thus raises the question, if eligible voters do not devote the time necessary to research candidates and policies, should they be allowed to vote?
The government continues to push the general public to vote using advertisements and informative packets.
“It’s your right,” a West Virginia civics education program packet said. “Young people, women, and underrepresented groups all fought hard for the right to vote. Even today there are countries where people are still fighting for the right to vote. Vote in honor of those who can’t.”
Despite the government’s persuasive attempts, votes don’t seem valid if they weren’t made by uninformed citizens, Cummins said. Not every eligible voter feels informed enough to vote confidently.
“Before [students] vote, they have to do research,” Bowers said.
Researching educational policies as well as foreign and domestic policies led to a vote for Clinton, Bowers said. Researching education policies led Ruthven down a different path.
“I’m looking into third-party candidates,” said Ruthven, who recently signed up for, popular third-party candidate
, Gary Johnson’s emails.
Despite research, Ruthven remains undecided about who she will vote for in the upcoming elections.
Voter registration is low. In the 2012 presidential election, just over half of the citizens eligible to vote were registered to vote and of those, 84 percent voted, according to Pew Research Center.
Voting percentages among Millennials are even lower. A mere 23 percent of Millennials voted in 2014 Congressional elections, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Citizens should exercise their right to vote to participate in government even if the candidates are not perfect, Ruthven said.
Election Day is Nov. 8, leaving less than a month for citizens to decide how to use their vote.
Contact Rachel Rogers at Rrogers18@my.whitworth.edu