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CNNU: Hot-button issues at Howard University

By Phillip Lucas
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 Phillip Lucas is a student at Howard University in Washington.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Attending college in the urban center of Washington presents a new political perspective to many students who may not have been politically aware before.

Students at Howard University, a historically African-American school, are known for being informed. When they were asked which political issues were important to them, their interests ranged from AIDS in Africa to protecting affirmative action.

Rachael Allen-Stephens, a junior at Howard University and vice president of both the Pre-Law and Political Science societies, expressed concern for the welfare of other countries. (Read what issues are important to students at the University of Nebraska)

"I'm really concerned with AIDS in Africa. People are apathetic and uninformed. While we're going to war to liberate Iraq, we don't have enough money to help with AIDS. Our money isn't going toward the right issues in foreign policy," she said.

Allen-Stephens said she believes the government is letting its citizens down, especially African-Americans.

"The country seems to be set up in a way for African-American people to feel like failures and end up looking like failures, too.

"In D.C., the nation's capital, we have some of the worst public schools in the country and down the street from the Capitol building are some of the worst neighborhoods in the District," she said.

Allen-Stephens credits living in Washington for her broadened view of politics, even before she completed an internship on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Burkett, a freshman broadcast journalism major, said Howard's closeness to the nation's political center has had a limited impact on his knowledge of politics.

"You may be in the place that politics thrive, but that doesn't mean you're actually involved," he said.

"I feel deeply saddened when people think affirmative action is useless," Burkett added.

Kristen Price, a freshman political science major, said she is concerned about the war in Iraq and the country's relationship with the rest of the world.

Price also said she feels that the wealthy are being best served by the government and that during the next round of elections, more candidates that cater to the middle-class majority are likely to be elected.

Price also said certain issues should be set aside to address bigger problems nationwide.

"The U.S. focus on gay marriage is receiving too much attention. This is only detracting the American people from other issues that are more important that we need to be attending to," she said.

The presidential election is two years away, but Price has opinions on what the next leader's plan of action should be.

"The next president needs to bridge the gap between the two parties because the American people are not too fond of either at this point," she said. "I believe that this next administration needs to also change the negative perception that other countries have about the U.S. and rebuild our alliances. Also, the next administration needs to slowly back out of Iraq," Price said.

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Kristen Price is a freshman political science major at Howard University.

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