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HBCU Students’ Perspective On The Upcoming 2024 Presidential Election

Amid an election year, HBCU students share their motivations regarding the upcoming election and the issues shaping their voting decisions.

Marchers at the March on Washington in 1963. Photo courtesy of Unseen Histories via Unsplash

As the 2024 U.S. presidential election looms, a potential rematch between President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, is garnering significant attention. This election holds various implications for students at HBCUs as they prepare to exercise their right to vote. 

“I choose to vote because there’s absolutely no reason for me not to,” Zuri Primos, a freshman mass communication major at Dillard University, said.  

“People like me didn’t always have the right to vote, so my being able to vote now is just a powerful testimony to their work,” Primos said.  

Issues such as the Israel-Hamas conflict, student loan payment reimbursements and foreign policy debates set the tone for how students are voting this year. Alongside these concerns, social issues such as the threat of school shootings, police brutality and immigration legislation are also poised to influence students’ decisions at the ballot box. 

“I make it a point to cast my ballot every election cycle since my family values politics and voting,” Trinity Dawson, a junior women’s health major at Spelman University said. 

“The events of the summer of 2020 were dominated by the Black Lives Matter movement and extensively covered by the news and social media, providing me with a critical opportunity to educate myself on the laws and policies that govern our society,” Dawson said. 

On March 12, the primary debates indicated that President Biden and Donald Trump were the two frontrunners for the presidential election. President Biden’s platform is focused on economic growth through workforce expansion and climate change commitment. 

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Trump’s campaign highlights stricter immigration policies and increases domestic production through implementing a 10 percent tax on imported goods. 

“The Biden administration’s response to the genocide in Palestine has disappointed me and I feel like it will disappoint young Black voters like myself,” Christopher Ricks, a junior political science major at Howard University said. 

“The loan forgiveness gap won’t change my vote, but I believe we should hold [Biden] accountable to create more equitable loan forgiveness,” Ricks said. 

“I vote because the pervasive accounts of African Americans, who were systematically denied the right to vote by the white American power structure, compel me to contribute to the representation we have always strived for,” Isabel Mitchell-Starks, a senior political science major at Dillard University said. 

“Historically, we have often seen power stripped from those who, with it, would rise beyond outside expectations,” she continued. 

Some students feel frustrated with the presidential candidate frontrunners and desire a more personable candidate. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, student voter percentage increased by 14 percent between 2016 and 2020, however, Black women voters increased by the smallest amount – eight percent. 

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“I’m still waiting to hear what the candidates have to say at their presidential debates. I find it is redundant and ineffective that we are forced to side with the ‘lesser of two evils’ each four years,” Primos said.  

“I would like to be able to side with a candidate who supports my morals to a fuller extent,

but unfortunately, this isn’t a reality,” she finished. 

Voting is an aspect of democracy that allows citizens to choose leaders to represent them and their interests. College students can utilize their voices to promote change within the nation. 

“It impacts me on the local level and also electing leaders that want to change the country and community for the better,” Ricks said. “As a young Black man getting a college degree, a lot of the issues in the country impact me.”

“From criminal justice reform, loan forgiveness and healthcare,” Ricks continued. “So voting for the right people and laws has an impact on me.” 

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The general election is scheduled for Nov. 5. Students are allowed to choose to vote in their hometown or by absentee ballot in their college town. 

“Voting satisfies the first step of my political self-advocacy. It says to my district, ‘Count me! My vote matters,’” Mitchell-Starks said. 

“I have added my genuine mark on the fabric of representation I am owed,” she said. “I am taxed…so too, I will vote.” 

Copy edited by D’ara Campbell

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