To Care or Not to Care: Asian American Montclair State Students Don’t Know Much about the Governor’s Race

By Georgia I. Salvaryn, Staff Writer

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Dhara Rana gives a presentation at a Korean Student Association (KSA) general body member meeting on Thursday.
Georgia I. Salvaryn | The Montclarion

Members of the Asian-American community at Montclair State University say they have little to no knowledge about the New Jersey gubernatorial election, which takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Governor Chris Christie is finally departing after his two-term, seven-year run in the New Jersey governor’s office. Many students are happy he is leaving, despite the fact they don’t know who is running for the office now.

Dhara Rana, a junior family and child studies major and the president of the Korean Student Association (KSA), can attest to that. She said that it’s sad how not many people know about the election and doesn’t think students know it has an effect on them.

KSA is one of the many Asian-culture clubs offered on campus at Montclair State. It allows people of all races, religions, nationalities and genders to join and learn more about the Korean culture, traditions and language.

Most of KSA’s general body members did not know much about the gubernatorial race at the time of their last meeting.

Rana also mentioned she is not yet registered to vote, but she may consider registering so she can vote.

“It all depends on what I learn about the candidates and the race before Election Day,” Rana said.

According to the Undergraduate Student Facts page on Montclair State’s website, the Asian-American community made up 6 percent of the university’s undergraduate student body as of January 2017.

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Jennifer Panella works on her homework in her dorm.
Georgia I. Salvaryn | The Montclarion

“None of my friends [keep up with politics], it seems like,” said Jennifer Panella, a sophomore public relations major. Panella also believes that political events, such as a new governor being elected, have no effect on her or her future career as a public relations liaison.

“I never cared about the governors’ race,” said Panella, who is a New Jersey resident. “I always cared about the presidential race because that’s just a well-known thing. And I know the governors’ [race] is a well-known thing. I just stopped caring after a while.”

It seems to be a common trend for many college students to say they don’t care about politics because they feel it doesn’t have an effect on them.

Many students, especially those who live on campus, say they don’t keep up with the news, in general. They say that since the fake news epidemic broke out, many students aren’t sure what to believe or what to read when it comes to finding solid, fact-based news sources, especially when it comes to social media. Students aren’t informed enough about many of the political events and issues circulating around the country.

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Kieu Linh Hoang (left) talks to Dhara Rana at a KSA executive board meeting.
Georgia I. Salvaryn | The Montclarion

Some students, like Kieu Linh Hoang, a sophomore animations and illustrations major and the events coordinator for KSA, plan on doing research on the candidates before voting.

“If I know what’s going on and what the candidates stand for, I will go out and vote,” said Hoang, who is a registered voter.

Other students, like Panella, don’t plan on voting at all.

“I think I am [registered to vote]. I’m probably not going to vote,” Panella said.

Phil Murphy and his running mate Sheila Oliver are the Democratic candidates running for office. Murphy’s campaign focuses on the issues of gun violence, job growth, eliminating state and standardized testing and improving public transportation.

Kim Guadagno and her running mate Carlos Rendo are the Republican candidates. Guadagno is focusing on issues like making New Jersey more friendly towards the military and veterans, fixing pensions and health benefits, cutting property taxes and improving education in the public school system.

As college students become less aware of the politics surrounding their future, the less they care about actually voting.

“I feel like as time goes on, we should start to care. After college, I’ll probably start to care more because I’m going to be in the real world,” said Panella.

This story is part of the Voting Block series and was produced in collaboration with The Record, NJ Spotlight, WHYY, WNYC, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, the Center for Cooperative Media and New America Media. To read all the stories in this series, visit VotingBlockNJ.com.

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