Young people rock DNC with protests, but students appear less involved

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - 3:45pm

PHILADELPHIA — Amid leaked DNC emails and fears of a  divided party, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters ignited protests throughout Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention this week. Additionally, many delegates at the convention came in protest with taped mouths and rampant booing of various speakers who praised presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Protesters came from varying demographics, but the majority tended to be millennials — a core group of support for Sanders throughout the primary season. However, few of these young people were current students. Out of 25 young people to whom the Daily spoke with at various protests, just five were current students. Three of those five students stated they intended on supporting Clinton in the general election, despite their reluctance.  

Catherine McGurk, a student at Arcadia University, said she plans to vote for Clinton because the movement Sanders started must begin on a smaller scale.

“I believe that grassroots works from the ground up,” she said. “So local elections are more important if you are trying to get a grassroots candidate elected, someone who is an independent, for example. But at the presidential level I believe it is still Republican or Democrat, and Hillary is more aligned with my beliefs, so I’m going to pick her.”

The students also agreed that the majority of students on their campuses plan to support Clinton despite their initial commitment to Sanders.

Angel Green, a member of the Up to Us movement which supports Sanders' campaign and grassroots change in government, confirmed that while her group is — at its core — made up of young people, just a few members are current students.

Many of these students and young people are protesting because they fear the consequences of a Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump presidency, equally. On campus, according to College Democrats chair Collin Kelly, a rising LSA junior, the mentality is a little different.

“I know that people aren’t as enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton as there were about Bernie Sanders,” Kelly said. “But even the most skeptical person of (Hillary Clinton) is more scared of what would happen if Trump were elected.”

Nonetheless, the recent Wikileaks release of e-mails showing the DNC was clearly biased against Sanders may cause more students to join the “Never Hillary” or “Still Sanders” movements.

Students for Sanders president Nick Kolenda, an LSA rising junior, wrote in an e-mail interview with The Daily that, though he views the movements as slightly dangerous, he understands the frustration among Sanders supporters.

“Personally (as a "Never say never" kind of person) I think that it's risky if you're a progressive supporting that particular movement as we live under a majoritarian system,” he wrote. “However, after the revelations from Wikileaks, the anger is understandable. The idea that "Clinton won fair and square" is kind of out the window at this point after it was revealed that the party put its finger on the scale for Clinton. It's difficult for many to see the nomination as legitimate.”

Kolenda added that he is unsure of exact numbers, but the support among members of his organization is divided, with many going in both directions.

With Michigan coming into greater play this election season, the turnout of students and whom they support will play an important role. Sanders, who endorsed Clinton earlier this month, has called upon his supporters to rally behind Clinton, but to little avail. Monday morning, he was booed when addressing fans when he requested that they stand behind the party’s nominee.

Protesters, when asked about Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton, had a common response, stating their movement is about more than Sanders. Green said she believes there needs to be change on a grander scale and people should not have to choose between only two candidates.

“We need to be the change,” she said. “That’s the bigger umbrella reason of why I’m here. Bernie Sanders is amazing, but he’s one person, and we all need to be in this together. … We believe that this is not the end and we do not have to choose between the lesser of two evils.”

Kolenda agreed with this sentiment, saying that the movement has become larger than just the presidential election and students.

“Sanders was incredibly popular with most people under 45,” he wrote. “He came incredibly close to the nomination, even with the DNC actively trying to harm his campaign ... There are also many Sanders supporters (some I know personally) who are now running for office. The movement is more than just young college students.”

Despite the large crowds of protestors at the convention, and the overarching movements, many still believe students will rally behind Clinton.

University Public Policy lecturer Rusty Hill said he believes most students will vote for Clinton, while those who will vote third party or for Trump will stem more from young working people.

“I think there is a divide among young people,” he said. “On college campuses, the youth that vote will overwhelmingly for Secretary Clinton, but among non-college youth, those people that are working, trying to scratch some jobs together, there may be some ground for a Trump or third-party vote.”

Kelly agreed with this sentiment, stating he believes students on campus will rally behind Clinton, with only a few stragglers voting third party.

“Sen. Sanders knows himself that it’s about the movement, not just one person,” he said. “I think we will see a lot of his supporters start going the fold and getting excited about electing Clinton.”