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Anxious About Future, Students Seek Solutions at GOP Debate

Vandenberg Residence Hall, Oakland University
Garry J. Gilbert
Vandenberg Residence Hall, Oakland University

On Nov. 9, at Oakland University, more than 19,000 enrolledstudents will have their chance to question 2012's Presidential candidates first-hand at the Republican Presidential Debate, hosted by CNBC.

Many will be first-time voters in the coming election, and they're already anxious for answers.

Excitement on the Oakland campus — a liberal arts college inRochester, Mich., just outside Detroit — is tempered by serious concerns about jobs, student loans, and the economy.

"The biggest issue in my mind is jobs and what's going to happen once I graduate. I have taken student loans. Repaying them certainly concerns me," says journalism student Patrick McIntyre.

Addressing these concerns in recent assignments, Patrick's, "Question for Candidates: What About Jobs?"is a feature story for the OU News Bureau.

Economic stories are pretty popular in this college's news coverage. After posting "College Grads Facing Jobs With Lower Wages," sophomore Charles Lapastora is now working on an investigative piece about Detroit's auto industry. For so many students here, the subject hits home.

"My father is currently an art director for Campbell-Ewald, an advertising agency in Warren, Mich. Chevrolet, one of their main clients, recently dropped their account. My dad foresaw this coming and eventually found himself unemployed. I was obviously devastated by this," says Lapastora.

The financial health ofGM, Chrysler, and Ford Motor — all headquartered in Detroit — serves as standard news coverage at OU, by broadcast, print and radio students alike.

"Many students here realize that funds from their parents or grandparents came from work in the auto industry, or something related," says Cathy Shafran, journalism professor at Oakland.

Holly Gilbert

Still, these students are hopeful about their prospects — and eager to hear what the GOP candidates have to say on Nov. 9.

"I want to hear what their plan is to restore the economy, and what they're going to do to bring jobs," says McIntyre, who is volunteering as a production intern for the event.

He will be joined by Lapastora, who adds: "Ever since I first heard that this debate was coming to OU, I’ve been looking forward to it and wanting to volunteer in any way possible."

Their fellow classmate, Troy Frisby, recentlyprofiled a graduate student struggling to pay off his loans. He, too, says he can't wait.

"I was only 17 when President Obama was elected, so 2012 will be my first chance to vote for president."

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