Students split in support of Sanders

“He’s too much of a socialist,” one student says.


Illustration by Ivan Benavides

Nicholas Brooks, Contributing Writer

Alan Friederwitzer, is an 18-year-old college student, but he’ll be voting for a 74-year-old Jewish man in the upcoming election. And he hopes you do too. Bernie Sanders, a self described democratic socialist, even has an on-campus club supporting the candidate — Owls for Bernie, with Friederwitzer acting as the club’s president. Through organized viewing parties, promoting in the Breezeway, getting students registered and fundraising, the club hopes to get Sanders elected.   “There are issues only he can tackle,” Friederwitzer said. “Whatever you are — conservative or liberal — we should all agree that we need less corporate involvement. We need military expenditure reform, criminal justice reform, Wall Street reform … and these should not be debatable.”

“We want to really raise awareness for Bernie,” said Doug Oberman, vice president of Owls for Bernie. “If we could spread the word, that’s what we are — we put on events, fundraise, register people to vote. A lot of people are confused as to how the primaries even work.”

Sanders’ platform focuses primarily on issues of equality — he supports same-sex marriage and is pro-abortion rights. He believes in a state-administered health care system, more-affordable higher education and an expansion of programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

His economic views seek greater governmental oversight of Wall Street, tax reform that increases rates for the wealthy and an end to the inequality between wages for men and women.

Elementary education major Kayde Sewel Campbell is one of Sanders’ supporters. “I’m a hardcore feminist, so originally I was all Hillary,” she said. “With the intersectionality of being a woman, and of color, I thought she would be a huge step. But then I realized that Bernie would be just as good too. With him, the transition to a woman as president wouldn’t be as big of a shock. He is about equality for all.”

Illustration by Ivan Benavides
Illustration by Ivan Benavides

Campbell explained that Sanders wrestled away her support from Clinton because Bernie has a real appeal. Despite the fact that Hillary has a decorated political resume, “people speak louder with their actions than their words. Bernie has done that, while Hillary has taken the political approach.”

As Sanders told the attendants of Netroots Nation in 2015, he has a 50-year history of standing up for civil and minority rights.

In 1962, he was arrested for protesting segregation in public schools in Chicago. In the 1970s, he began his political career with a platform calling for the abolition of all laws related to homosexuality. As a Vermont senator, Sanders strongly supported 2013 legislation to end employment discrimination against LGBT Americans.

In 2014, he strongly condemned police brutality and embraced immigrants on their call for executive action on immigration.

But not everyone is on the Sanders bandwagon. Katrina Sanchez, a 22-year-old business administration student, says Sanders is “too much of a socialist.”

Raised by a heavily Republican father, Sanchez says that she doesn’t care for programs like social security, welfare and food stamps, “because they take away the concept of working hard for anything.”

Multimedia journalism major Gabrielle Guglielmelli doesn’t mind Sanders’ socialist tendencies.  But she does believe that at least two points of his platform, while appealing, are simply unfeasible.

One of those points is Sanders’ free education platform. “It is possible, but I just don’t know if it’s possible right now, in the current time that we are in,” she said about it. Sanders wants to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, and reduce interest rates on student loan debt.

Guglielmelli is also skeptical about Sanders’ ability to get elected. “I have a feeling that a Republican will win this election, especially with Hillary Clinton’s emails. Bernie seems to say the right things, but sometimes he says too much,” she says.

Statistically speaking, Sanders is facing stiff odds in the upcoming White House battle. According to a computer model built by Reuters — an international news agency — the next president will be a Republican. As Reuters explains, voters typically vote against the party currently in power when an incumbent isn’t running. In fact, a successor candidate is three times less likely to win.

“Our model works on the basis of probabilities, and is focused at the party level rather than the candidate level. It seeks only to predict the likelihood of a change to the party in power,” said Clifford Young and Julia Clark, who wrote the article that referenced the computer model.

“It has an 85 percent predictive ability, so it’s right most — but not all — of the time. Things that could confound the model include rapid changes to Obama’s approval rating, or unusually high or low turnout.”

As of publication time, Sanders ranks 31.9 percent in the polls. Clinton is the choice of 55.0 percent of Democratic voters. Time will tell whether or not Sanders can “Bern” through the elections and close the gap.