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Students reflected on race-related issues crucial to presidential campaigns and discussed the importance of the minorities' vote.

Credit: Remy Haber

In the 2016 presidential election, the minority vote really counts, and Penn students have taken notice.

Wednesday night, the Penn United Minorities Council hosted a discussion on how the current political candidates are addressing minority issues. UMC hosted this event so that students could reflect on the issues, share opinions and ask their peers questions about the election.

The majority of the discussion revolved around the Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The room was divided over who was the most trusted candidate on political issues. Many students also expressed a sense of disillusionment when it came to the way candidates handle minority issues.

“I feel like we should put people into positions that actually represent us,” Nursing sophomore Ayont Young said. “How do you tell who’s real and who’s not?”

“When you get to college, you’re not paying as much attention to what’s going on in the outside world,” UMC Chair and Wharton junior Temilola Ransome-Kuti said. Students are still debating which candidates would be in their best interest to elect.

Although the Penn College Republicans were invited, UMC said they did not respond to any outreach from them. Members from Penn for Hillary and Penn Democrats, as well as those just interested in politics were present to express their views.

Some students expressed concern that candidates would say whatever it takes to win the minority vote, but are rarely held accountable once in office.

Students distrust the radical ideas that candidates present because they are rarely able to follow through. “Candidates tend to overshoot for their goals in their campaign and end up compromising away most of their ideas later on,” one participant said.

While it was widely agreed among the group that Republican candidates were not concerned about issues of race, some pointed out that Republicans still try to prove that they can win the minority vote. The group laughed about how Trump brought minority women on stage to testify their support for him. However, his strict immigration policies and tendency to use vulgar language toward minorities has pushed many away.

Others feel that winning the minority vote is more of a strategic plan rather than a genuine dedication to change. College sophomore Lawrence Perry said that political candidates think that they can meet with one or two prominent people in minority communities and gain the vote.

However, some feel that the candidates have good intentions but are prevented from accomplishing things because of checks in power, especially Congress.

“Obama hasn’t been able to accomplish much because he has been halted by the Republican-dominated congress,” Engineering junior Sergio Labra said.

Several times, students brought up the issue of trying to use the minority vote to accomplish real goals and solve problems.

“The key way for minorities to hold politicians accountable is to be registered voters,” College junior Ray Clark said. There is a disparity between the demographics of Americans and the demographics of people who vote, he added. Another participant pointed out that Republican voters are more likely to show up at the polls.

While it remains unclear right now what Sanders or Clinton would do for minorities once in office, it is clear that what minorities have to say has a big influence on the election.

“The minority vote was disenfranchised, [and] I think it says a lot about where we currently are as a country that politicians are trying so hard to cater to the minority vote,” College freshman Brittany Bing said. “Looking at how far we’ve come legally and socially says a lot.”

The minority vote is no longer something that can be overlooked.

Many are still trying to see who the candidates really are and determine what they can expect from candidates once in office. “There’s so many questions that need to be answered,” College sophomore Maya Arthur said. “I think as the election continues we’ll have a clearer stance on who we want to vote for.”

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