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Point of View

Point of View

Weighing in on the '08 presidential election
Berkeley undergrads opine on the issues, the candidates, and the campaign

— This year a civic-minded student coalition registered a whopping 9,425 new voters at UC Berkeley, about 3,000 more than during the last presidential race. With interest and political passions running high, the NewsCenter visited Sproul Plaza — during the final weeks of the long '08 campaign — to take students' temperature about an historic election. Here's what nine undergrads, many of them first-time voters, had to say.

 Lakshmi Santhosh

On political naiveté and political reality: 'This is definitely my first presidential election that I can vote in, and I'm pretty excited about it; in 2004 I just watched in pain.... All the naïve uplift about Obama — I realize that it's not quite as golden and pretty as all of that, that everyone really just is a politician in the end, including Barack Obama. But I think he would be best for this country, and best to deal with the issues we're facing in the world.'

Lakshmi Santhosh, junior, economics
Hometown: Pleasanton, CA
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On frustration: 'This is my first time voting, and mostly I'm just frustrated. I'm frustrated with our country and I'm frustrated with what these politicians are trying to sell us. To be honest, I dislike both candidates. That's where I stand: there's no good candidate.'

Natalie Kazarian, sophomore, psychology
Hometown: Fresno, CA
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Natalie Kazarian
Marcus Dunseth

On the green economy: 'The most important election issue for me is probably green energy. I think green energy is the opportunity we have to revitalize our economy, by leading the way for the world.... We did that with the industrial revolution and with the high-tech boom and the Internet. If we don't keep coming up with things like that, then our ability to be a powerful nation kind of falls apart.'

Marcus Dunseth, senior, math
Hometown: Santa Rosa, CA
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On making history: 'Campaigns will always try to find the most irrelevant piece of dirt from deep down within. But it's not affecting how I'm going to vote at all. ...This election is going to be different from anything you've ever seen before. So I feel kind of excited just to be taking part in a piece of history.'

Tyler Camille Gipson, sophomore, undeclared
Hometown: Inglewood, CA

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Tyler Camille Gipson
Alex Ritchie

On evolving political views: 'It's important to regulate and monitor the powers-that-be — whether they're government powers, or economic, or business powers — and to try to create a society that's egalitarian and philanthropic. My study of history has changed my political views, to make me more liberal and I guess ultimately more democratic.'

Alex Ritchie, junior, history
Hometown: Folsom, CA

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On political disagreement: 'My grandma is for McCain. But her opinions don't make sense to me. Pretty much it's the race issue with her — telling me that Obama is not an American, and that if white leaders can't control the country, with this whole economic problem, then what makes us think that a black man can? So I just kind of put that to the side and just reiterate to her that he is an American; he was born here.'

José Gonzalez, junior, political science
Hometown: San Mateo, CA
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José Gonzalez
 Kathrine Stapleton

On indecision: I really wish Hill' was in the running, but instead it's Obama, which is frustrating. ...I actually supported Ron Paul, because I'm a Republican, and preferably more toward libertarianism. ... So I really don't know who to vote for.'

Kathrine Stapleton, senior, psychology
Hometown: Covina, CA
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On student passion: 'It's really interesting how passionate students are getting. I think I’m really lucky to go to Cal during this election, because there’s just so much enthusiasm for the different candidates. Mostly for Obama, at Cal, obviously. It's just an exciting time to be a student.'

Yuko Wada, senior, mass communications
Hometown: Covina, CA
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Yuko Wada
Raymond La

On citizenship and voting: 'I'm originally from Vietnam, and came over when I was five. I've never voted before, because I've only just recently gotten my U.S. citizenship. So I'm excited about getting to vote for the first time ever.... The most important issue for me is how the candidate will deal with the sluggish economy. Because as a senior leaving college, it will be hard, even as a Berkeley graduate, to find a job.'

Raymond La, senior, molecular and cell biology
Hometown: Los Angeles
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