On Tuesday, Sept. 18, the semester’s first Hot Topics panel, “The 2012 Election: What Students Need to Know,” commenced in Lenfell Hall at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham campus.
The FDU community was well represented in the panel, which included senior Dan Palmer, president of the Student Government Association; Dan Cassino, an associate professor in the political science department; Gary Bronson, a professor of information systems and decisions sciences; and Evangelos Djimopoulos, a professor of economics and chair of the economics, finance and international business department. Krista Jenkins, executive director of PublicMind, served as moderator.
Cassino kicked off the panel by discussing the unemployment rate and how it will affect FDU students in the long run.
The unemployment rate is currently at 8.1 percent but the most important number, Cassino explained, is the U6. The U6 includes all people who don’t have jobs – including those who are unlikely to ever get a job. This number is currently at 15.5 percent.
“If you have a college degree, things are still good,” despite the high unemployment and U6 numbers, Cassino said.
Cassino said that the philosophy that any person who wants a job can have one is simply no longer true.
Palmer spoke next about the importance of voting and registering to vote. He also mentioned the voter ID laws that can have a huge impact on students voting in November.
“When November rolls around thousands of young Americans will be turned away,” Palmer said, referring to student IDs being an unacceptable form of identification at polling places.
Palmer made note of the misconception that young people have no role to play in changing and shaping the world and used the Arab Spring uprisings as an example of young people standing up for change.
Bronson was the third speaker and addressed cooperation over competition. He said that the founding fathers did not compete against each other, rather they worked together. This generation, he said, is all about competition.
“Show me someone who competes and I’ll show you someone who comes in second,” Bronson said.
Bronson also spoke about running government as a business. He explained that one of the first things that would be done would be cutting taxes, and equated that with selling out.
Bronson closed with reminding students that, in addition to all the economics, they should pay attention to who they are and what freedom means to them.
Djimopoulos was the last to speak and talked about student loans and Medicare. The most important thing with regard to student loans, he explained, is that they don’t go away if you can’t pay them.
He asked the audience how many of them took out student loans to pay for their education and several people raised their hands. He then asked how many people have a co-signer on those loans, and people continued to raise their hands.
“If you can’t pay, then your parents are responsible,” Djimopoulos said.
Djimopoulos then switched to health care and how the president’s health care plan was put down as a bad thing.
“For students, it’s a good thing,” he said, explaining that students could stay under their parents’ health insurance until age 26.
He also spoke about Medicare and why students should be concerned about its future sooner rather than later.
Djimopoulos told the students in the audience that while it does not affect them directly, it does affect their parents and grandparents.
If Medicare is eliminated, Djimopoulos explained, there would be major problems.
At the end of the panel discussion, Palmer clarified his reasons for encouraging students to vote, noting that people often respond to social pressures.
When you go out and vote, tell people that you voted, Palmer said. He explained that this would make them more likely to vote because they hear about other people voting.
Cassino and Palmer both made it a point to not just vote, but to contact your representatives and let them know what you think about the job they are doing with regard to representing you, the constituent.
Djimopoulos had the final word and told the students, “Don’t keep quiet. Go discuss things.”