From the convention: college students talk youth vote, higher ed cost

Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s joke from his Wednesday night speech about  how t his IPod playlist compared to presidential candidate  Mitt Romney did not impress  a group of journalism students from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

Five students from the school, where the third presidential debate will be held in October, have spent the week in Tampa covering higher education in the election, interviewing protesters and officials who are striving for their attention – and their votes.

Lynn University students Ricky Freebery, Tamara Reyes, A.J. Mercincavage, Sophia Barrett and Patricia Lammle have been covering higher education issues at the Republican National Convention. (Photo courtesy Andrew Vermes/Lynn University)

It’s clear they are missing the mark. The overall impression from these college students is that the Romney campaign is failing to  connect with young voters and not talking enough about higher education.

“It’s obvious that they’re trying to get us involved,” graduate student Tammy Reyes said of Ryan’s iPod crack. “They’re not being very successful.”

Reyes, a foreign student from Nicaragua, believes lighthearted jokes about technology should be replaced with substance and discussions of issues that directly affect young voters – like college costs.

One major point of contention between Democrats and Republicans is how much government should subsidize tuition costs. The Republicans, for instance, have sought to cut funding to the Pell grant program, which provides funding for low-income students to pay for college, and tighten eligibility requirements for Pells.

The Republicans argue that increased government subsidies of higher education only serve to drive up tuition costs for all.

A.J. Mercincavage, an undergraduate Pell grant recipient himself, can understand some of their argument, but   supports keeping the program intact.

“I think it’s really important for underprivileged students,” said Mercincavage, a senior at Lynn.

Overall, students found that education was not emerging as a hot button issue; They said the protesters they talked to were far more concerned with issues such as s Romney’s Mormonism.

The students also said that some education topics –  – like special education or international student visas – were being ignored by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Patricia Lammle a student from Nicaragua studying for a master’s degree, was concerned about policies that made it hard to stay in America after coming here for school, and about a lack of action on President Obama’s part to make it any easier.

“I know Obama has said we should help the students who come here,” she said. “He just says the broad idea and then that’s it.”

POSTED BY ON August 30, 2012