Print: Election Anxiety

The 2020 Election has come, and with that comes an increasing wave of anxiousness about the future of the country.


Illustration by J.R. Pfeiffer.

Marcy Wilder, Web Editor

Editor’s note: This story is an updated version from the UP’s latest issue that can be found physically on campus and digitally through our Issuu page.

19 FAU students were asked questions about their general outlook, the pandemic, climate change, and politics. All quotes from students are from this outreach project. All answers are not indicative of the entire school population.

The next presidential election is right around the corner, and for many freshman and sophomore students at FAU, this is the first election they will be able to vote in. This election is different from any other that these students have seen before, with a pandemic that has put life on hold, increases in depression and anxiety, and the current tense political atmosphere.

Kathryn Kominars, the director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), is a licensed psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for 30 years. When she began, she said that depression was the number one major health issue that students identified with having, with anxiety now joining it in the top five.

“Depression, anxiety, [and] stress, they’re all very connected, because when people are depressed, they’re anxious about being depressed often. And when people are anxious, they’re frequently depressed about being anxious,” said Kominars. “Lots of times [when] people identify depression and anxiety, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their level of distress meets a diagnostic category for an illness.”

Now with the pandemic and the election happening at the same time, as well as the majority of students going to school online, a major increase in mental stress has occurred, said Kominars. According to 21-year-old Kyle Arking, taking classes online is a “headache.”

“It’s challenging for absolutely everyone,” said Kominars. “Things are very uncertain, and in our current political climate I think it’s very challenging to be an undergraduate [and] see the political dialogue being so charged and uncivil.”

“The actions taken by the government have been too little and too late,” said 21-year-old Vanessa Van Der Linde. “If they had mandated masks and quarantine earlier and more effectively we may have been close to how countries like New Zealand and others are doing now.”

Arking states that the pandemic has caused him to be depressed and “scared for my life and the lives of those around me.”

Other students believe having most or all of their classes online is a good thing.

“I think FAU’s decision to put most of the classes online was the best they could have done and is better than resuming all in-person classes, so the students are less at risk,” said 21-year-old CC Carson.

The answers to how the students felt about the current political climate were split between being hopeful about the election to “concerning,” as 19-year-old Pete Gordon puts it.

24-year-old Chelsi Cook described the current political climate as, “hectic, controversial, and unlike anything I’ve seen or heard of before.”

20-year-old Melissa De Jesus takes a more apathetic approach, saying “I don’t watch the news and I almost just don’t care.”

However, 26-year-old Devante Cascoe stated, “It’s an important election that will decide our future.”

Kominars said that it’s very discouraging for students to see “a very common lack of kindness, and seeking to understand and create space for divergent views.”

“I think the recent climate and events that have occurred have allowed more people to wake up and realize that we are heading towards our damnation if we don’t step up and demand change,” said Van Der Linde.

When asked whether or not the current main candidates accurately reflect their beliefs, the split was about 60-40 between yes and no respectively.

When asked whether or not the current main candidates accurately reflect their beliefs, the split was about 60-40 between yes and no respectively. Graphic by Marcy Wilder.

“I have yet to see a really good president uncorrupted by money and high social standing to understand there are some laws we need in order to run,” said De Jesus.

Van Der Linde said that she’s curious about the outcome of the election and thinks “there may be backlash no matter who is elected.”

Kominars also said that the way the current election is going can be discouraging to students. “When we’re talking about living in a civil society, how does it make sense that we’re talking about winners and losers? Aren’t we all in this game together?”

About 60% of the students responded “No” when asked if they believe if the current government system was working, but Cascoe said, “This system has problems that can be addressed.”

A part of the past president and vice-presidential debates have been climate change, which both candidates have large parts of their campaigns focused on.

As FAU is in Florida, which is in its current hurricane season, Kominars believes that climate change affects FAU’s students more personally.

“People who are in college are aware of these things, and are wondering what’s wrong with the grownups that they’re not dealing with this? So I think that can give people a sense that our system of government is flawed.”

Gordon said that while he believes that the government should take action, “they seem not to care.”

“The global and regional response is severely lacking and seems to be still an issue that is debated on,” said Cascoe. Most students agreed that it was a cause of concern.

Van Der Linde believes that there a lot of things a single person can do, “but that isn’t really going to change much if big companies continue to produce mass amounts of plastic.” Cook said that making the effort is better than not doing anything at all.

At the very least, students believe that there will be change. “Given that some people are thinking about voting for the first time, and they may wonder whether it makes a difference. And it does,” said Kominars.

And will they vote? Yes, said Cook. Yes, said Van Der Linde. Yes, said Cascoe. Yes, said Carson. Yes, said Arking. Yes, said Gordon: “If I don’t, I have no reason to complain about anything cause I didn’t do the bare minimum to create change.”


The CAPS Crisis Line is 561-297-3540
A mental health literacy training is available at
A web series called the Anxiety Toolbox is available on the CAPS YouTube Channel

Marcy Wilder is the web editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @MarcyJWilder.