By Rebecca Tapio and Suraiya Afrina with reporting by Arman Chowdhury
At a university where international students make up more than a tenth of the undergraduate student body, voting for the next president of the United States can mean more than fulfilling your civic duties.
For those like Audrey See Tho, the president of the International Student Organization, the outcome of the presidential election can directly impact their future.
“A lot of international students think, since they can’t vote, they can’t really have any impact,” Tho said. “A lot of people I talk to want to stay here. But I also know a few international students who are getting involved by volunteering in campaigns and trying to help out as much as they can”
The immigration policies of both candidates are many students’ primary concern, and the next president will likely decide whether they will be able to continue to live and begin to work in the United States after graduation, or if they will have to seek employment at home.
Governor Romney, as he said in the second presidential debate, supports giving green cards to highly skilled immigrants and those who graduate from college in the United States.
President Obama’s policy focuses on undocumented immigrants already attending school in the US, many of whom were brought here as children. As stated on his website, he believes that “The law should stop punishing innocent young people whose parents brought them here illegally and give those young men and women a chance to stay in this country if they serve in the military or pursue higher education.”
Foreign policy is also critical to international students attending college in the United States. Many are concerned for the welfare of their home country, including Joeun Lee, a journalism major.
Lee, originally from South Korea, fears for her country’s safety as a result of continuous political association with the US, saying that “North Koreans would do a provocative attack to South Korea like they did before, when the South Korean government isolated North Korea by cooperating with the States,” she said.
Shadman Islam of Bangladesh, is more concerned with the same region that has plagued the candidates since they began to campaign: the Middle East.
“I’m Muslim, and I would want to know what the reactions are going to be,” he said. “And a lot of things that candidates talked about, I personally didn’t like them.”
The issues in the region, including the civil war in Syria and sanctions put in place to deter nuclear development in Iran, have been a key talking point for both candidates.
While both Obama and Romney agree that a firm hand must be used to ensure respect for the power of our nation, the Sept. 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, has been politicized on both sides.
United States Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, along with three other Americans, was killed in the attack. Eleven other people were injured, and it has since been determined that it was a deliberate act of terror against a United States facility.
For other students, the process of voting in America can be a complete contrast to the political process in their home country.
“In my country, politics is much different,” Said Rahul Mehta, a biomedical engineering major from India. “People vote more by popularity than by potential. It’s like a ‘brand loyalty.’ People don’t understand or don’t even know what the parties are bringing on the table.”
In comparison, 67 million Americans tuned in to watch the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, held at the University of Denver. This was soon followed by two more debates in which the candidates showcased their policies for the country to judge.
For those in the United States, “brand loyalty” will not determine the next president.
As Shadman Islam said, “It’s about the better candidate winning.”