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New Students Straw Poll Results: Election and Issues


During the New Student Convocation for the College of Arts & Sciences, we took a straw poll to find out what our new CAS students are thinking about various public issues.  The poll was conducted in the most old-fashioned of ways, on index cards in different colors with hand-written answers to questions provided on slips of paper!  The results are completely anonymous. Students were free to opt out of participation.  We collected the index cards and tallied the answers below.

163 students participated in the polling, or about half of the class of incoming students who include both new first year students and upperclass transfer students.  These were the questions:

Here are the results:

If the U.S. presidential election took place today and you could vote, who would you vote for?

Respondents were free to write any name on the cards, there were no name prompts.

Bernie Sanders 25%
Joe Biden 8%
Barack Obama 5%
Hillary Clinton 5%
Elizabeth Warren 4%
Beto O’Rourke 3%
Julian Castro 3%
Cory Booker 2%
Kamala Harris 2%
Michelle Obama 2%

Getting ONE vote each:

Pete Buttigieg
Ben Carson
Bill Clinton
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez
David Ige, Governor of Hawaii
Donald Trump
Andrew Yang

10% of the responses said “Not Trump” or similar.

11% of the responses were “don’t know” or similar.

13% of the responses did not provide a name but did offer general statements of preferred characteristics in candidates, such as these ideas:

  • “I would vote for someone who is open minded.  Someone who really cares about all the people, all the races and cultures.  Someone who truly cares about our environment.  Someone who will help the immigrant communities.”
  • “Someone who cares about other people’s lives and wants to help poor countries in the world.”
  • “I would vote for a person who is involved in issues like climate change and immigration.”
  • “I would vote for the candidate that wants a better living for all in America, who won’t discriminate against those people that have less…”
  • “I would vote for a candidate who would…reduce the amount of massacres that happen with semi-automatic rifles…”
  • “I would vote for a president who would like to help immigrants and not hate us…”

If you could give a speech before the entire U.S. Congress about an issue that’s really important to you and your family, what is that issue?  Please give a one sentence summary of what you would say about the issue.

The top issues cited in order of those most frequently mentioned include:

Gun Violence
Climate Change
Police Brutality
Racism and Inequality
Mental Health
#MeToo and Sexual Violence
Free College

Representative comments on these issues:


  • “I would speak to Congress about Immigration Reform.   I would tell them the fear of hard-working people of getting deported while their kids are at school.  I would talk about our values and why the things the president is saying are not going to make America great.”
  • “Immigration is part of the country’s growth.”
  • “I would talk about ICE — Humans are in camps that are being treated as animals.  We are only going backwards with history repeating itself.”
  • “ICE shouldn’t be separating families… People work hard all their lives just to provide their loved ones with better opportunities; they should be able to stay in America without having to worry about being taken away from their families.”
  • “Separation of families… kids have been living their worst lives…”
  • “Even though this list could go on forever, the detention of undocumented children is the most important.  The children coming into the United States are not causing any harm and keeping them detained like animals does not solve any of the issues.”
  • “Immigrants make, build and shape America.  They deserve to call America home.”

Gun Violence

  • “If I had the opportunity to speak with the U.S. Congress, I would talk about the gun violence that has been taking place in the U.S.  It is time we stop losing our brothers and sisters to violence that we could prevent.”
  • “I would explain my experience surviving a school shooting, as well as stress how gun violence disproportionately impacts people and communities of color, and how we can eradicate the issue.”
  • “Video games do not cause violent behavior, not getting help causes violence.  White supremacy causes violence, not the child playing animal crossing.”
  • “Gun violence is a public health issue.”

Climate Change

  • “The current climate crisis is an issue dear to my heart.  The amount of carbon/greenhouse gas emissions has skyrocketed in recent years under Trump’s administration and the amount of waste pollution in the U.S. is unequal to other modern countries.  This must change.  We must do our part to stop climate change.”
  • “Climate change.. will have an impact on all of us whether it’s close or further in the future.  It will change our lives, but we have the power to stop it now.”
  • “We are contributing irreversible climate impacts that will lead to our demise.”
  • “The Amazon is very important and if nothing is done about the fires there, it will have a lasting effect on everyone no matter which continent you live on.”

Police Brutality

  • “I chose this topic because I see it a lot in my neighborhood.  It happens to me and my family a lot.”
  • “If I could give a speech before the U.S. Congress about an important issue, I’d speak about police brutality.  I’d speak about that because men and women are being killed, and there is no justice for them.  They die at the hands of those who swore to protect them.”
  • “Police brutality is a huge issue that we demand to change.  Black lives do matter!”
  • “…I would speak about… a mother’s fear for her smart honor student son.”
  • “I would speak about Police Brutality and Racial Injustice because for me as a Black woman, I feel that the hate toward us is still powerful and we are being targeted.”

Racial Justice

  • “I would speak about pay equality for women of color.  I want to live in a world where men and women of all races can work the same job and be compensated fairly and with justice.”
  • “I would discuss the fact that African American women are dying during child birth a rates that are an all-time high.”
  • “Reparations for my people…I would tell Congress to remember that my people and their descendants are God’s people…”
  • “I would remind them that race is a social construct, something that society created to implement a social hierarchy.”
  • “I would discuss y issue with racial stereotypes.  Every race gets judged for their ethnicity.  Some people get more job opportunities than others because of race and ethnicity.”
  • “I would give a speech about the importance of equality in our country, and how it will have a positive impact…”

College Cost and Free Tuition

  • “I believe we could use a lot more professionals in this world.  We need more doctors, surgeons, scientists, etc.  My speech would be geared toward the need to lower college tuition so that more people could succeed and give back to their communities more generously.  High school students and people living in poverty shouldn’t have to fear the costs of education.  he expensive tuition is keeping millions of people from reaching their dreams.”
  • “My parents have 2 kids in college and its hard on them, but a college education is really important.”

Poverty, Homelessness, Gentrification, #MeToo, Other Social Issues

  • “Gentrification:  The increase of gentrification in Washington, D.C. has displaced many of my friends; there’s no need for condos on every block.”
  • “If I could give a speech before the U.S. Congress about an issue that’s really important to me, it would be helping the homeless and the problem with poverty.  Also, giving good health insurance to low income families.  What I would say is that everyone should be treated equally and fairly; nobody is less than any other person based on social class.”
  • “…an issue important to me and my family is homelessness.  There should be NO reason there are kids, elders and families living on the street.  Since D.C. has all this money to build houses, condos, apartments, there should be places to house people in need.”
  • “…health care for undocumented people.  Health care is so expensive if you don’t have any kind of insurance.”
  • “I would talk about world poverty.  A lot of under-developed countries are in Central and South America with people of color… The U.S., as a huge and influential country, has the resources to help support our neighboring countries, so what are we doing to help?”
  • “… poverty in the Black community because blacks are struggling to live their lives due to government issues.”
  • “I would want more affordable housing in DC…”
  • “I would talk about mental illness and providing more information and resources to get help for minorities.”
  • “I would like to see more programs and activities for people with disabilities because they deserve to have fun just like everybody else.”
  • “I would speak about #MeToo because I am a woman, myself, and I know and want respect.”
  • “When you go on social media, whether Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, all you see is #this and #that but the one that really matters is #MeToo.  Abused women have for too long struggled to have their voices heard.”

What is a subject you’ve never studied that you’d like to try while at Trinity?

So many ambitious students!  These are just some of the subjects our new students are eager to try out during their college days at Trinity — we have many of these courses here, but since we are members of the Consortium of Universities I am sure our students can find any courses we don’t have somewhere among all of the universities in DC!

Dance Sociology Computer Science Coding
Communication Journalism Politics Photography
Mathematics Forensic Science Humanities International Affairs
Criminal Justice Religion Art Health
Psychology Nursing Music Marine Science
Sports Administration Creative Writing Cybersecurity Engineering
Anatomy Philosophy Latin American History American Sign Language
Mid-wifery Oceanography Physics Women’s Studies
Culinary Arts Sculpture Accounting Economics
Languages, including French, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese and others

If you could get an internship anywhere in Washington, where would you go?

Fascinating range of answers — this group of new students is ambitious and intellectually curious!  We hope that every student will have several internships while studying at Trinity, and our faculty, staff and alums will be instrumental in helping students make connections to their placements of choice.  We can’t guarantee all of these, but we certainly have had many internships and clinical placements at many of these locations.

New students desire internships at these locations:

  • Hospitals, led by Children’s National Medical Center, the Washington Hospital Center, and GWU Hospital top the list of the places our new students want to experience — not surprising given the fact that about half of the new class want to be nursing or healthcare professionals.
  • Political locations appeal to this group — internships on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and specifically in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Trinity ’62) or Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
  • Journalism is a big deal for this class, and they want internships at the Washington Post, New  York Times, Radio Disney, CBS, Vox and other media outlets.
  • Teaching and child development are also big issues, and many expressed an interest in getting internships at schools and child development centers.

Other desired internship locations ranged across many fields of interest, including:

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
World Bank
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Performing Film Academy
National African American History and Culture Museum
The Pentagon
The F.B.I.
Inter-American Development Bank

…and many other locations!

What a remarkably ambitious and visionary group of new Trinity students!  We are so glad to get to know you!  Welcome!

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: