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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Election Season Q&A: Are students involved enough with local government?

With the General Election for Whatcom County coming to a close, Western Front reporter Ariana Hoyer asked faculty and students for their opinions about student involvement and this year’s issues.

Josh-Lease-e1446584504225-169x300Name: Josh Lease, Senior

Major: Elementary Education

Q: Do you think Western students are aware of the issues in Whatcom County?

A: “No, probably not. I think that those who are invested in those specific issues, such as coal, definitely know what’s going on. In terms of the general population, I don’t think a lot of students take their time to look into the issues. I don’t think it’s that people don’t care, I think that people think they have to spend their time on things that are more efficient for them, which I understand but it’d be nice at the same time to understand what’s going on too.”

Q: Do you think that college students are involved in the election?

A: “I think throughout the nation about 50 to 60 percent would vote, but I think Western’s pretty active in terms of voting. Western’s a pretty liberal, progressive school with a lot of students who like to think they’re involved, or want to be involved and vote. I think it’s also important to be knowledgeable about what you’re voting about. I think some students are and some students just vote for whatever their political alignment is.”


Ashley-Carter-e1446584668464-169x300Name: Ashley Carter, Junior

Major: Sociology

Q: Do you feel like Western students are involved and informed about this election?

A: “I know a lot of people who are part of Whatcom Democrats or Whatcom Votes. I feel like a lot of Western students don’t really know a lot about the local elections, because they’re only here for four years and they don’t really get involved.”

Q: What do you think are the most important issues for students?

A: “Tuition costs, but I’m not sure that Whatcom elected officials have any say in that, I think it’s like a board of trustees that lives very far away.”

Q: Do you think students should be more involved?

A: “If they want to be educated on how it works, then probably. But if they’re moving out of state or out of Bellingham after they graduate, then probably not because it doesn’t affect them too much.”

Q: Do you think that the majority of students participate in the election?

A: “With the local ones? No. If they wanted to make a difference within Bellingham, if they wanted to stay here and work here probably, but otherwise I don’t think it’s a big priority.”


Thomas-Franks-e1446584776373-169x300Name: Thomas Franks, Junior

Major: Computer Science

Q: Do you think that Western students are educated about the upcoming Whatcom elections?

A: “As a whole probably not. I don’t know much about it. I know a lot of people stand out and around campus trying to educate people, but usually when I’m on campus I’m going to class or trying to do homework, so I usually don’t have the time to sit there and listen to them tell me about it or inform me about something like that.” (Franks 1:15)

Q: Do you think students should be more involved in the elections?

A: “I definitely do. Me personally, I probably don’t care about some aspects of the election, but there are probably some very important things that I should look over. I’m starting to hit that point where it’s actually going to matter to me, rather than still in the mindset of when I had just turned 18. What was going on in that world didn’t really matter to me, but it’s kind of becoming more important now.”


Patrick-Buckley-e1446584892803-169x300Name: Patrick Buckley

Title: Professor of Geography

Q: What do you think are the biggest issues on the ballot?

A: “I think the biggest issue is how the county is going to be organized in the future. It’s not an exciting election. There’s some real local issues, but other than that, you can see that the mayor has no one opposing her. Half the ballot had no one opposing them.”

Q: Do you think that there are any issues on the ballot in particular that apply to Western and Western students?

A: “I see things that apply to the local society and as members of society that applies. I wasn’t aware that there was anything specific on there for Western students as opposed to all members of Whatcom County.”

Q: Do you think students are involved in the local elections?

A: “I think it depends. It’s obvious when there’s a presidential election. The student who was just in my office, he had a button on. National types of things, state-level, certainly when there was the question of legalizing marijuana there was a lot of student interest. I’m not aware that they’re really that interested much in the tax measure on the ballot. So this election, myself I haven’t come across a lot of student interest. Just by walking across campus I haven’t heard people talking about it. I didn’t see any issues at the local level that directly impact the students. I think the tax measure will have an impact whichever way it goes because universities do rely upon state funding and if state funding decreases, it’s got to be cut somewhere.”


Sarah-Rothgeb-e1446584992123-169x300Name: Sarah Rothgeb, Senior

Major: Human Services

Q: What do you think are the most important issues on the ballot?

A: “For me it’s definitely the coal trains and the first nation rights that are being put in harm’s way.”

Q: Do you think Western students as a whole are educated or involved in the upcoming election?

A: “I’m really actually concerned about the new freshmen not being aware. With the past couple years and last year especially with everybody being really active about the no coal trains going on and just being active in general about all the new issues that are coming up. I haven’t really been seeing a lot of that lately. I think that the freshmen who have just moved up here are really unaware. The signs are still up but nobody’s talking anymore.”



Deborah-Gramm-e1446585097164-169x300Name: Deborah Gramm

Title: Program Coordinator for Special Education

Q: What do you think are the biggest issues on the ballot?

A: “Anything to do with taxes. That’s always a big issue, as far as me, because I’m a homeowner. Anything that would influence my taxes- raising or lowering them.”

Q: Do you think that Western students are actively involved in the upcoming election?

A: “I think some are. The greater majority are probably more focused on their courses and majors and stuff than on what’s going on around them. When you go to college it’s sort of a mini environment, so they’re not aware of what’s going on in the real world unless it absolutely impacts them.”

Q: Do you think students should be more involved?

A: “I think it’s good for them to know what’s going on. Whether they have the time and energy for that on top of their studies, I know isn’t always possible. They’re so busy with their studies it’s hard to get involved.”


Ani-Harrison-e1446585215916-169x300Name: Ani Harrison, Sophomore

Major: Linguistics and Japanese

Q: How involved do you think Western students are in local elections like this one?

A: “They seem pretty involved. There’s lots of people campaigning certain things. I know there’s a lot of sustainability things happening, especially.”

Q: Why do you think it’s important for students to be involved in local issues?

A: “I think it’s really important because the younger generation has new points of view that need to surface. That younger voice is really important.”

Q: How well do you think that students at Western are informed about the issues on the ballots?

A: “I know I voted in the local one last year and it was really easy to be pretty well informed about it if I tried to be. I think it’s just this year I’ve been so overwhelmed I haven’t put in the effort. I think if I had put in the effort, it’d be easy to find the information and easy to get informed.”


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