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Credit: Julio Sosa

At a Michigan rally in August, Republican presidential nominee and 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump asked African-American voters, "What do you have to lose?" by voting for him.

On Wednesday night, a student panel discussion hosted by UMOJA hosted about what issues are most important to minorities in the 2016 election appeared to answer, "quite a lot." 

The panel included board members from the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, the United Minorities Council and Lambda Alliance.

The panelists went into depth about what they believed their minority community has at stake in the upcoming election. While everyone on the panel agreed that a Trump presidency would not serve to help any minority interests, students expressed differing views about why they are voting for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton instead.

“No single candidate can singlehandedly address all the issues we care about,” said Lambda Alliance Chair and Nursing senior Ian Jeong.

The other panelists agreed on voting for Clinton, but said they are doing so mainly to ensure Trump does not win the presidency.

“I’m voting ‘not Trump,’” said Victoria Brown, a UMOJA board member and Wharton sophomore. Brown went on to say that Clinton has the most experience of all the candidates, including those from the primaries, and that her expertise is often overlooked.

Ivan Sandoval, College senior and board member on the Latino Coalition, hopes that Clinton will stick to her progressive agenda if elected to office. Sandoval said that he would rather have had Bernie Sanders as the Democratic presidential nominee, but is now supporting Clinton.

“You can’t trust Hillary Clinton, but you have to vote for her because the other side of the coin is Trump who wants to build a wall between my family in Mexico and my family here,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said safety is one of the biggest issues for the Latino population in America. He spoke in regards to immigration rights and the fear that immigrants, especially Latinos, have of being deported.

Safety is a major concern for the LGBTQ community as well, Jeong added. He pointed out that there is no current federal law protecting people in the LGBTQ community from discrimination in the workplace.

“It is shocking all the hate that’s in America towards people of color and people who are different,” Sandoval said.

Yen Yen Gao, Wharton junior and APSC board member, addressed the different set of issues faced by Asian-Americans.

“Neither political candidate is seeking to appeal to Asian-American voters,” Gao said, ”Our political power is underestimated in this country.”

Gao said this lack of attention to the Asian American community stems from a stereotype that Asians are a model minority — meaning they are viewed as a rich, well-educated and ultimately homogeneous group.”

Getting minority voters to the polls was another point that was brought up. Political apathy is not just an issue among minorities, but also millennials.

Sandoval suggested the solution to having a population that pays attention to elections is education.

“Teaching kids from an early age about why it is important for them to know about the political system, we would need a cultural change,” Sandoval said.

Imani Solan, Wharton sophomore and UMC board member, said people feel as though their vote does not matter because of the way the electoral college system is set up. She thinks that there would be a larger turnout if the country were able to restructure the presidential election system to make the popular vote matter overall.

Towards the end of the conversation, the student panelist signed up some attendees to vote in Philadelphia.

“We’ve been saying Trump is a joke since last summer,” Sandoval said. “But look at him now, this is scary, it’s a neck and neck battle.”

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