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Inside Politics

View from Portland

Portland Community College students weigh in on issues

By Christy Moorehouse
Special to CNN

Christy Moorehouse is a student reporter at the campuses of Portland Community College.
Christy Moorehouse is a student reporter at the campuses of Portland Community College.

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Editor's note: Campus Vibe provides student perspectives on the 2004 election from selected colleges across the United States. This week's contributor is Christy Moorehouse, assistant editor at The Bridge, the Portland Community College student newspaper. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of CNN, its affiliates or Portland Community College.

PORTLAND, Oregon (CNN) -- The campuses of Portland Community College are set in a variety of landscapes, from bustling cityscape to spacious mountain views, each with its own character. The concerns of the thousands of students who attend each campus reflect their surroundings, diverse and strong in presence.

Broad hilltops and mountain peaks surround the Sylvania campus where PCC student Jessica Hutchins says there is not enough talk about the environment from presidential hopefuls. Hutchins would like to see a president "not letting corporations and companies break [environmental laws] just because they can." She says it happens because "the president is letting them."

Changes in current policy and the president's actions are a big issue for many PCC students. Alex Dal, a business major, says the next president needs to "use different tactics to keep us informed" about military campaigns overseas.

"It's a scary thing," says Dal, who is Russian American. "You don't know what's happening. [Troops] are sent in and are getting killed -- with no results."

Dave Berg, a political party fence-sitter, agrees.

"The next president needs to know what's going on with the war," he says. "They [have] to do something." Berg has a friend who returned from Baghdad several weeks ago. "Someone got killed there everyday. There's a lot [we'll] never know."

Knowing what's going on in politics is a big concern for Joanie Cunningham, who feels the "women's movement has taken a step backwards" with the current administration.

Cunningham, a smiling PCC student and single mother, would like to see more funding appropriated for women's scholarships. She's also worried that women's health issues are not taken seriously. "We need support. We're raising your sons," she says.

Cindy McFarlane, a psychology major and mother, also is concerned about the fate of the nation's sons and daughters. "If we don't educate kids," she says, "life won't be real good."

Federal funding for education is an issue McFarlane would like to see addressed during the upcoming election. "The government isn't giving money to the states. [Funding for schools] is addressed on paper with No Child Left Behind ... [but] in reality, it's not being financed."

From the urban streets of PCC's Cascade campus, Brian Ruzicka, president of the Cascade campus branch of Phi Beta Kappa, says higher education is key to a stronger economy.

"[Voters] need to recognize the big picture," Ruzicka says. "I don't see a president caring about the community college student. Demographically, we don't vote and are from a lower socioeconomic [strata]."

"A really smart politician would think about how to get these votes," says PCC student Angie Fitzpatrick. "It's an old boys' network."

Fitzpatrick says the political arena needs to focus more on younger voters.

"The public needs to acknowledge that their perspective is valid."

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