What students are saying about voting and the midterm election

By Elizabeth Rymut and Robin Sluzas

Kayla Macedo

A day out from Election Day, Columbia College Chicago students share their thoughts on why they are or are not voting.

The Chronicle asked 20 students from different majors and years where they stand on various voting-related issues.

Photo by Robin Sluzas

Robert Shunmugam | he/him/his, sophomore, Marketing

Why did you register to vote and how many times have you voted?

“I think I’m obligated to, and I’d like to. I’d like to have my say in who is in power. This will be my first year voting. It’s exciting. I’m excited to see what a ballot box is.”

Photo by Robin Sluzas

Isabel Vasich | she/her/hers, junior, Graphic Design

Why are you voting in the midterm election?

“I’m voting in the midterm because it has been impressed upon me that voting, at every opportunity, is very important, so I’m trying to be better about exercising my right to vote.”

Photo by Robin Sluzas

Zoe Veasey | she/her/hers, junior, Music Technology

Why did you decide to vote in Silvis, Illinois, versus Chicago?

“I decided to vote in Silvis; it’s where I’m from. I’m registered there so it’s a little bit easier. I also feel like I’m making a bit more of a difference.”

Photo by Robin Sluzas

Kyaria Friend | she/her/hers, first-year, ASL Interpretation

How many times have you voted? How do you feel about voting?

“Zero. I feel good about it; it’s always something that I wanted to be a part of.”

Photo by Robin Sluzas

Brean Adames | he/him/his, junior, Interior Architecture

What about this midterm election feels different from any other vote you have cast?

“There’s two people running for governor, so I feel like it will be much easier to vote this time since it’s only two people.”

Photo by Robin Sluzas

Simon Monroe | he/him/his, first-year, Music B.A.

Do you plan to vote?

“Not really. To be honest, no. It’s kind of a guilty thing. Not exactly, but I’m not against doing it.”

Photo by Robin Sluzas

Ryhen Miller | she/her/hers, senior, Communication

What’s different about this midterm versus the previous votes you cast?

“I feel like I’m a little bit more conscious about it. The last time I had an opportunity I just turned 18. Now I feel a little bit more aware of what’s going on and how it affects me, especially with the women’s rights stuff; especially as a Black woman.”

Photo by Robin Sluzas

Nolan Whalen | he/him/his, senior, Photography

What about this midterm election feels different?

“I feel like it feels different because there’s a real shift that I feel could happen, but there’s also a possibility for a real not-shift to happen also; so I feel like it’s really high stakes in a lot of ways.”

Photo by Robin Sluzas

Grey Perniciaro | they/them/theirs, sophomore, Photography

Why did you choose to be registered in Missouri and not here?

“Not that it has much impact in Missouri because it’s so dominated by another party, but I think just the way our system works, I’d rather vote in Missouri.”

Photo by Elizabeth Rymut

DJ Fondren | he/him/his, first-year, Cinematography

Why aren’t you involved in politics? Why do you think it’s important to have young people in office?

“I would like to get into it. We need someone young in office. [Voters] always vote for older people; I think we need younger people in office. Biden, he’s old. I don’t really think we should have old people in office because they’re going to die soon. Younger people like us can vote, and we can relate to [them]. We have the mindset.”

Photo by Elizabeth Rymut

Caroline Moore | she/her/hers, junior, Communication

Do you have plans to mail your ballot [to Colorado]? Have you thought about voting day of in Illinois? What makes you reluctant to vote?

“I don’t know. I feel like I haven’t been that up-to-date in Colorado or here, either. I haven’t really thought about it. I’ve only voted in the presidential election. Nothing makes me reluctant; it’s more something I haven’t really thought much about. … I’ve been preoccupied with school, so I feel like it’s not a big priority for me.”

Photo by Elizabeth Rymut

Viviana Luna | she/her/hers, senior, Marketing

Does this election feel different? Why is it still important?

“It does, the last and first time I voted was Trump vs. Biden. … At that time, everything seemed so polar, you were either for this person or for that person. A lot of people that I know of didn’t really want to vote for our current president, but they felt they had to pick the lesser of two evils. This one doesn’t feel as tense as it did at the time two years ago. … There’s no political campaign that is more politically important than the other. … For me, I’m not focusing as much on the bigger political candidates; I’m focusing on the small ones, like judges … the people that aren’t as well known going into power.”

Photo by Elizabeth Rymut

Monique Castile | she/her/hers, first-year, Interior Architecture

As a first-time voter, how has the registration process been for you?

“Whether I vote or not, I feel like there’s so many people out here that don’t believe in abortion being canceled and stuff. I’d say that percentage is pretty high, so I don’t know, if I vote or not, it’s no telling. I’m actually deep down excited because I get to make a choice and get to vote. When I first turned 18, I realized, yeah I get to vote. Before I could vote, I used to be like, ‘Oh, I would do this,’ or ‘I would do that.’ I’m that kind of person.”

Photo by Elizabeth Rymut

Austin Nichols | he/him/his, first-year, Audio Arts

Will you be voting? Can you talk about why it hasn’t been on your radar? What issues are important to you, and why?

“I’m not too sure; it hasn’t been on my radar. I’m not really too big on politics. I don’t really follow the election too much. … I’m not too big on getting real deep into that. [I care about] BLM because I’m an African American. I’ve experienced racism before, whether with cops or other civilians. I think healthcare is important; I don’t know too much about it … everyone deserves that care.”

Photo by Elizabeth Rymut

Josh Phillips | he/him/his, first-year, Film/Television

Why is it important to you to make a difference?

“It’s important to me because all my family lives in Chicago, so the difference that I would want to make, the difference I think I could make would be in Chicago. I just like to see how this politician, or whoever I’m voting for, what they can do or what they say they can do to make a difference. I’m from 79th, so that’s like the South Side. It’s not like the ghetto, but it’s not the best neighborhood. The Red Line isn’t really the best train to take, so changes in those areas, which I know there’s not going to be.”

Photo by Elizabeth Rymut

Esteban Alegria | he/him/his, sophomore, Music

Why are you not registered to vote?

“I feel like it doesn’t matter. I think change needs to happen in a lot of areas, but I think no matter who you vote for, I don’t see anything changing. We are in a democracy, but it never really feels like it. It feels like the government controls who’s in power, rather than we do, the people. I find political figures to be disingenuous; they just tell people what they want. They are just like puppets. I feel if I vote for them, do they actually stand for what they say they stand for? Will they actually change what they say they’ll change?”

Photo by Elizabeth Rymut

Sandra De La Torre | she/her/hers, sophomore, Fashion Merchandising

Why are you planning on voting in the midterm election?

“I am planning on voting because although a lot of my friends don’t really vote like that in the midterms … at the end of the day we could make a difference, two votes can unbalance things. [I tell people] imagine if someone you completely disagree with wins by one vote; at the end of the day, your vote did matter.”

Photo by Elizabeth Rymut

Joshua Hogberg | he/him/his, senior, Creative Writing

Why was it a hard decision to choose the people you voted for?

“I don’t think Republicans are absolute monsters, but it feels like a lot of non-monster Republicans have become kind of party-level enablers and are allowing the monsters to get away with a lot of stuff for party loyalty, so I figured even if I didn’t like the Democratic options that much they’d probably still be better than the Republican option. … It feels like every one of the Republican policies [regarding body autonomy, gun laws, immigration] are just bad for the country and the people.”

Photo by Elizabeth Rymut

Ralphie Serpico | he/him/his, senior, Audio Design and Production

Why do you think having multiple parties [rather than just two] to choose from for voting is better?

“I don’t think having a lot of questions in life are just one and two. I feel like if I asked you right now, what’s your favorite food, there isn’t two foods you’d pick between, and it also depends on, where does that food come from. We’re all so different and so unique; we all come from different backgrounds and different experiences. I think at least like six [options] would maybe get the general population’s beliefs, but still wouldn’t.”

Omar Castaneda | he/him/his, first-year, Game Art

Do you plan on voting in the midterm election next week?

“I’m not really into politics a lot, so I’m not that informed. That’s kind of why I don’t really vote. From the media, it seems like Bailey is a bit too much. Especially with the abortion stuff, that’s a red flag for me, a person that thinks that way.”