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CNNU: The hot issues for Nebraska students

By Chris Welch
Special to CNN
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Editor's note: CNNU is a feature that provides student perspectives on news and trends from colleges across the United States. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of CNN, its affiliates or the schools where the campus correspondents are based. Contributor Chris Welch is a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

LINCOLN, Nebraska (CNN) -- Issues like the war in Iraq and the debate over what to do with immigration have no doubt controlled the news media in recent months, but will those issues control how students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln vote November 7?

Or, perhaps, will students' choices for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives be based on a candidate's positions on issues closer to home?

"It's definitely local," said UNL senior Grant Maynard. "I don't think Iraq or the scandals that have hit Congress recently are really affecting my decision in this election at all. It's really more about what will impact me here in Nebraska." (Read what issues are important to students at Howard University)

Maynard's biggest concerns stem from two initiatives on the ballot: One, if passed, would limit state spending, and another would allow video keno, which is a form of electronic gambling.

"But I think my views are different from a lot of other people's views," he added.

That's certainly true. Take senior Britni Bethune, for example.

"I know I'm most concerned with the national topics," said Bethune, in contrast. "They're more well-known, more well-recognized. I also think that right now we should be worried about national issues."

She said that, for her, the war in Iraq is the No. 1 factor in choosing congressional candidates.

"This election could be a moment of change. The people will get to speak and decide what they want to happen."

But some students on campus said that it isn't a question of national versus local interests at all.

"I think the issues I feel really strongly about are the ones simply dealing with morality," said junior Mike Barrera. For him, that means abortion and gay marriage are large factors.

"Not that I don't feel strongly about the war," he added, "But we are there, and I think we are kind of stuck with it at this point. There's always going to be conflict; it's human nature."

Maynard said he has a position on the war, but when it comes to voting, that issue will still take a back seat to the local issues.

"I think it just depends on how close you are to things on a national level. If those things affect you on a daily basis, for instance, you know lots of people in Iraq, then it'd be more important. But for me, I just don't feel as connected to those issues as, perhaps, some other people, which is why I focus on more local issues," Maynard said.

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A cyclist rides past the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's City Campus Union.

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