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Penn State Students React To Presidential Election

Penn State Student Abby Kelley said she was "very happy" Democrat Joe Biden won the presidential election.
Abby Kelley
Penn State Student Abby Kelley said she was "very happy" Democrat Joe Biden won the presidential election.



On Saturday, the Associated Press called the presidential election for Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Some Penn State students talked about what they think Biden’s election might mean for human rights, student debt and other issues. 


Freshman Abby Kelley said she was “very happy” and called her friends to celebrate when she learned Biden will be the nation’s 46th president. Kelley said Trump has made the United States more divided than ever, so she hopes having Biden in the White House will lead to progress toward racial and gender equality. 


“I think that Joe Biden’s actually going to lead this country into the direction where there’s equality for everybody," Kelley said. 


Kelley is a member of the LGBTQ community. With a conservative-leaning Supreme Court, Kelley said she voted for Biden in the hopes he will protect women’s rights and reproductive rights. 


She said the 2020 election was about more than the economy. 


“I feel like it’s just human rights over money," Kelley said. "That’s what it comes down to.” 


Freshman finance major Cameron Acken said he was disappointed Biden was the democratic nominee in the first place. Since other Democratic primary candidates like Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang did not win the nomination, Acken voted for Trump. 


Acken said he overlooked some of the president’s flaws because of what he sees as pro-American and pro-worker stances. 


“I think if you look at the numbers of things that a lot of his policies really did benefit people, even if his rhetoric or how he was portrayed might have seemed contrary to that," Acken said. 



Cameron Acken smiles for a picture.
Credit Cameron Acken
Cameron Acken smiles for a picture.


Acken said as a college student, paying for his education was a huge factor in who he voted for. Acken believes a successful economy led by Trump could have helped combat student debt. 


“Student loans, they’re just such a ridiculously large burden on the average American," Acken said. "I think that it’s certainly a problem that needs to be addressed.” 


Yet Acken is hopeful Biden can be successful in office. Acken predicts Republicans will hold the Senate, but hopes the future president’s moderate stances on the economy will lead to economic progress rather than gridlock in Washington. 


“He might be able to bridge the gap and maybe try and get some stuff done," Acken said. "I mean, I'm always looking to be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed, so, you can always hope for the best right?” 


Matt Dougherty is a freshman pre-medicine major. He voted for Biden. 


Dougherty said with the recent confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, he wanted to vote for someone who would protect the environment and basic human rights for women and the LGBTQ community. 


“I’d rather have someone in office that supports the influence of expanding rights and not trying to take them away based off religious freedom, because human rights trump religious freedoms in my mind," Dougherty said. 



Matt Dougherty (right) with friend Sydney Newhart.
Credit Matt Dougherty
Matt Dougherty (right) with friend Sydney Newhart.

Like Acken, Dougherty is aware of the rising cost of college. But he thinks Biden is more likely than Trump to help reduce the cost of a college education. 


“It’s good to know that we have a president that’s working to lower the price of college," Dougherty said. "The price we’re paying now is a little bit outrageous.” 


President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris are set to be sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2021. 


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