Many of the major topics raised in this election year will have a tremendous impact on Americans’ everyday lives. With immigration policy, Supreme Court nominations and gun control the most prominent issues, there is another that could affect students and first-time voters the most: the cost of college. “It’s definitely one of the biggest things that will impact who I vote for,” said Mackenzie Banks, a political science and James Madison senior at Michigan State. “I’ll be starting law school next year, and any help with decreased tuition costs would be great.”
Banks said he was a supporter of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders before he dropped out of the presidential race. Sanders was an advocate for free tuition at public universities and was a popular candidate among young voters.
Countryside Manor, a low-income housing apartment complex in Bath Township, Mich., has qualified for 30 free water heaters for all units from Consumers Energy. The water heaters are Energy Star, which brands themselves as energy efficient. Consumers Energy began an incentive program back in 2008 because of the passing of the Energy Bill that puts an emphasis on energy conservation. Consumers Energy Public Information Director Terry DeDoes said that it was a comprehensive bill that had goals of reducing pressure on the electric grid. “We have different programs to provide to different residential and industrial customers to save energy,” DeDoes said.
Michigan State hosted an informational meeting days after President Trump issued an executive order banning immigration from seven countries. While many came with questions, university officials could only offer a little more than support. “We can’t change anything about the executive order,” said one speaker. “We are committed to supporting you.”
MSU faculty from the Office of International Students and Scholars addressed a jam-packed lecture hall in the international center. Lawyer Marie LaComb flipped through a powerpoint detailing the specifics of the ban.
DeVos Place hosted the Michigan Music Conference, an annual event bringing together the state’s music educators – many of whom have not rallied behind new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who’s namesake adorns the venue. The Michigan billionaire was confirmed in the Senate in a 51-50 decision, the win decided by a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. DeVos advocates for school-choice and using vouchers to pay for private schools. But her opponents dislike her lack of education experience. “You have to be working with the kids day by day to understand what it is we do,” said Farmington High School choir director, Angel Gippert.
As President-Elect Donald Trump continues to consider candidates for his cabinet, one who has already been chosen has influenced Michigan politics more than any other person in the state with the help of her family, and public school advocates say she threatens the foundations of the state and nation’s public school system. Last month, Trump chose Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education, something many experts say is a clear attempt to further privatize education by expanding the use of charter schools and the voucher system, something Betsy DeVos and her family have contributed financially to for the last 20 years. The family has combined to make about $14 million in political contributions in the last two years alone, according to Secretary of State data. “Their money has impacted numerous pieces of legislation in the House and Senate,” said Craig Mauger, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, which tracks political money throughout the state. “It’s obvious they wield a ton of power in not only Michigan politics but throughout the country.”
Mauger said the family’s giving in the state outnumbered the combined fundraising of the main state PACs for the United Auto Workers, the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Association for Justice over that time period.
If one were to look at the polls for the presidential race in Michigan in August 2016, only one conclusion was possible: Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had it in the bag. As the presidential race wound down and months went by, polls in Michigan grew less predictable , though many remained in Clinton’s favor. In the Detroit Free Press poll from July 30 to Aug. 3, Clinton was on the heels of her Democratic nomination and sat comfortably 11 points above Republican candidate Donald Trump. Trump’s national and state wins on Nov.
In buildings across Michigan State University’s campus, hundreds of students stood in lines that wound around buildings. The wait to vote was sometimes longer than two hours. One thing was clear: passion drove students to fill campus polling locations.