International students and the 2016 election

Clint Datchuk / The Kent StaterRepublican presidential nominee Donald Trump addresses supporters at the IX Center in Cleveland on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016.

McKenna Corson

With the 2016 election finally dwindling down, most people are sick of hearing the names Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This election has been long, expensive and scandal-filled. However, for a decent population of Kent State’s student body and faculty, they’ve been forced to experience an election that they aren’t allowed to take part in.

About 3,000 international students are able to call Kent State their “home away from home.” While being members of American society, international students have also been exposed to the American government and this year’s presidential election.

The American democracy, like every country’s government worldwide, is unique and different.

Changmin Keum, a 33-year-old physicist working in Kent State’s physics department from South Korea, was surprised with the amount of scandals Clinton and Trump were able to get away with and still run for office.

“In my country, they could not be candidates,” Keum said. “They’d have to resign”.

Kaum has doubts about both candidates and their qualifications to be the nation’s leader.

“For Hillary, she’s still under investigation and nothing is confirmed yet, so she might be able to keep running. But Trump, I don’t think he’d be the proper candidate,” he said.

According to, the South Korean president is elected directly by the people for one five-year term. South Korea’s National Assembly, the legislative branch, consists of 299 members who are elected by popular vote for four-year terms.

Shiyi Nyu, a 29-year-old physics major from China, was impressed with how public the American campaigns are.

“Common people don’t see the election process at all in China,” Nyu said. “We learn about scandals from rumors because we are not able to know high level information. Scandals give you the opportunity to look at a perfect person and see the dark side that you never knew.”

According to The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, the Chinese president serves as a figurehead under the National People’s Congress, China’s legislative body. China’s single party, the Communist Party of China — led by the General Secretary — holds all of the power in China.

America plays a large role in other countries, so while international students are unable to vote, they will still be greatly affected by the outcome of this election.

Akram Al- Shaeedi, a 32-year-old physicist working in Kent State’s physics department from Iraq, compared the American government to the Iraqi government.

“Iraq is still very new to elections,” Al-Shaeedi said. “Our president doesn’t have much power while our prime minister does. Saddam Hussein acted as our president and prime minister for many years, so that’s why the system of elections is very new to us.”

According to the BBC, the Iraqi government has experienced many years of political unrest. Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship ended in 2003, and a multi-party system eventually came into power. The prime minister of the Council of Ministers is the head of the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi president is the head of the Iraqi state. The prime minister and the president are elected by the Council of Representatives. The Council of Representatives consists of 275 Iraqis, and members are elected by the people.

Despite being unable to vote, the international students still side with one candidate over the other.

Hang Zhao, a 24-year-old finance major from China, sides with Clinton.

“Hillary looks like she’d make a more caring and influential president,” Zhao said. “Her advertisements make it look like she’d do a good job.”

Nyu and Al-Shaeedi both side with Trump.

Al-Shaeedi, a Muslim, is able to overlook Trump’s controversial remarks he made on Muslims due to the role Trump could play as commander-in-chief.

“America is playing a big role in Iraq, so I’d be on Trump’s side,” Al-Shaeedi said. “I already see that a side of Hillary’s can be black and dark.”

Al-Shaeedi also agrees with Trump’s plans on ISIS.

“ISIS entered Iraq under Obama and the Democrats. ISIS has killed too many innocent people in Iraq, so why would I stand with Hillary? She said she wants to help countries get their freedom from ISIS, but when? People have already been killed by ISIS. Time is over,” he said.

Nyu feels that Trump would be a good leader for America due to the fact that Trump isn’t a Democrat.

“Trump has new views,” Nyu said. “People want to see some new changes.”

Nyu agrees with Trump’s forward ways of thinking.

“He’s straight on his position. He’s honest when he speaks.”

Even though Americans are the only ones with the power to vote, they aren’t the only ones involved in the election. Due to America’s large global involvement, America’s politics extend borders.

“Because I’m an international student, why not take a chance to see if Trump makes a change?” Nyu said. “Thinking like that, that’s why I can’t vote!”

Mckenna Corson is the international and grad affairs reporter, contact her at [email protected].