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Brenau students hear female, minority perspective on politics
Strategists discuss role of women in election
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Attendees listen to speakers Tuesday night during the Beyond the Talking Points: What Election 2016 Really Means to Women event in Pearce Auditorium at Brenau University. The program addressed candidate talking points, polling segmentation, what both parties will learn from this election and more. - photo by Erin O. Smith

After an evening of discussions between Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, and Kristen Soltis Anderson, Republican strategist and researcher, Bridgett Tiller found herself siding with Kumar.

The discussions, called “Beyond the Talking Points: What Election 2016 Really Means to Women,” were held at the Pearce Auditorium on the Brenau University campus, where Tiller goes to school.

“To me, she made a lot of good points that I can agree with,” Tiller said. “She’s a minority like me.”

Kumar said she was a first generation American and became naturalized when she was 9 years old. For some like Tiller, seeing someone who looks like them or has the same struggles is comforting, she said.

“I think it’s pretty exciting that young girls will see someone who looks like them (in the election),” Anderson said.

Gender was touched on by both speakers, with Kumar throwing out the statistic that 59 percent of absentee ballots this year were sent in by women.

Some students, like Diamond Wood, said they were still somewhat undecided, no matter what the candidates looked like.

“It’s like, who do we even choose out of those two?” said Wood, a Brenau University student and president of the Black Student Union club on campus.

However, she still knows she isn’t voting for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the end of the day.

Anderson said she sees why some Republicans are sticking with Trump and why some Democrats are sticking with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, no matter what.

“They say, ‘Oh, he’s a bad guy. But my bad guy is less bad than the other person,’” Anderson said.

Wood said she didn’t like what Trump stood for, but also didn’t like the back-and-forth she had seen from Clinton.

For her, the wage difference between men and women was a hot-button issue.

“If Hillary can (close the wage gap), that would be lovely,” Wood said.

At the beginning of the election season, Wood said, Trump seemed to be against the Black Lives Matter movement and supported police officers. In the recent debate, he mentioned the movement again in a more positive way.

“If everything you say contradicts itself, how can I trust you?” Wood said. “Nothing he says is valid.”

Tiller didn’t like what she saw during the debates, either.

“We wanted the issues, but what we got was reality TV,” Tiller, another member of the Black Student Union at Brenau University, said.

She also said how it bothered her that the debate crowd was predominantly white.

“Talking about how (black lives matter) to a crowd of white people doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

Anderson touched on the race issue during the discussion.

“We like to think we are post-racial and post-gender, but really we have a lot of work to do,” Anderson said.

Kumar added that this year, there are 10 million new voters, with two-thirds of those being people of color, and more specifically, four million of those are first generation Latino.

While race and gender were topics discussed at length, in a crowd full of students, the topic of loans and debt after college was also raised.

“Student loans don’t know gender,” Anderson said, which roused an applause from the audience.

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