2020-10-21

Students Say Protests Motivating Them to the Polls

 

By Hunter Britt, Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. -- Voters are more divided now than they were in the 2016 election, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. Many young Virginians believe the passion could translate to the polls on Election Day.

Rickia Sykes, a senior at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, said that her political views have grown stronger since protests erupted globally in late May. The death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly 8 minutes, inspired months of protests.

Sykes said that her political views line up with her faith. She considers herself pro-life, believes in advocating for the working class, and supports law-enforcement.

“The protests have shown me we need to keep God first, but it has also shown me that good cops are important to help keep law and order,” Sykes said in a text message. “I do realize that there are bad cops, but in order to make a change, I believe we need to work together with the good cops.”

Sykes said that now she researches politicians more thoroughly before deciding which candidate gets her vote. She looks at voting records to see if they vote in a way that “will help us middle and lower-class families.”

Erik Haugen, a junior at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond who considers himself a Libertarian, said his political views haven’t changed much since the protests started.

“I just see the stronger push for equality, and I think it’s a good step in our nation so long as it proceeds peacefully,” Haugen said.

Equality is at the center of issues that student voters are concerned about this election. From racial injustice to prison reform to healthcare concerns, many students say they want to enact positive change.

Students have varying opinions on whether or not the importance of voting has become more significant in recent years. Sykes said that she has always found voting significant, but she believes the importance of it has grown for others. Haugen said that while his political views haven’t changed, he believes voting has become more important in general and especially for the younger generations as tension in the U.S. grows and protests become more prominent.

Sarah Dowless, a junior at William & Mary in Williamsburg, said that voting has always been important, but the protests have made voting more prominent, “like people encouraging folks to vote and making information about voting accessible, especially among young people." Dowless said the recent protests have reinforced her progressive beliefs. 

“If anything, the protests have only amplified my concern for racial injustice in America and my concern about police brutality,” she said. “It’s a fundamental issue about freedom and it calls into question the very principles on which this country was founded and continues to claim.”

The protests also influenced a host of legislation in the recent special legislative session of the General Assembly that ended last week. Virginia legislators passed numerous bills focused on police and criminal justice reform.

According to the United States Census Bureau, voter turnout among 18 to 29-year-olds jumped 15.7% between 2014 and 2018. This was the largest percentage point increase for any age group. Turnout is expected to be high this year as well, but there are no final numbers for age groups. Voter registration in Virginia set a record this year with almost 5.9 million voters  registering. During the last presidential election a little more than 5.5 million people registered to vote.

Sykes is also concerned about the economy and health care.  She wants a political leader who will increase the odds that people have a stable source of income to afford medical treatment. 

“As a graduating senior, I want and need a good paying/stable job for when I graduate,” she said. “I need someone who will make sure we have a strong and reliable economy.”

Dowless wants U.S. prisons, which she describes as currently being “more punitive than rehabilitative,” to undergo major reform. Haugen would like police academy programs to be longer and implement de-escalation training. 

“I first and foremost care about the safety of the American people,” Haugen said. 

Early voting and no-excuse absentee voting are currently underway throughout the state. The deadline to request to vote absentee by mail is Oct. 23. Early voting ends the Saturday before Election Day, or Oct. 31.

Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University's Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.

Good Dental Hygiene Makes A Big Difference

By Natasha Grover, DDS, VCU Health CMH Family Dental Clinic

Maintaining your teeth isn’t only about looking good.  Poor dental hygiene can lead to problems that are much bigger than an unpleasant smile. Tooth decay and gum disease can affect other parts of your body, including your heart.

Why is it important to practice good dental hygiene?

Good oral/dental health translates to good health overall. Dental problems such as cavities or gum disease can impair your ability to eat and speak properly, cause pain and bad breath. And what many people may not realize, is that poor dental health can have a profoundly, negative affect on areas outside of the mouth, including your heart, diabetes, pregnancy and chronic inflammation, such as arthritis — to name a few.

Some studies suggest that the bacteria in gum disease can travel to your heart and cause heart disease, clogged arteries or stroke. Gum infections, such as periodontitis, have been linked to premature births and low-birth weight in pregnant women. Diabetics should be especially careful about dental health because diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, making the gums more susceptible to infection, which can adversely affect blood sugar.

Practicing good dental hygiene is so important because it can prevent these type of oral disease and dental problems. And prevention should be the primary focus. I advise the following:

1. BRUSH YOUR TEETH TWICE A DAY

Brushing at least twice a day for good oral health. If you get the chance, it can be good to brush after every meal. Make sure you floss daily, too. Floss can clean crevices even the most thorough brushing might miss.

2. USE PRODUCTS WITH FLUORIDE

Fluoride is super important to healthy teeth. Fluoride is a salt that is shown to prevent tooth decay. It is so important, fluoride is even added to our water. When choosing dental hygiene products, make sure to choose products that contain fluoride. This helps reduce your chance of getting cavities.

3. REPLACE YOUR TOOTHBRUSH REGULARLY

An old toothbrush might feel like it’s doing the job, but your toothbrush should be replaced about every three months. The bristles soften over time, and bend out of shape. Both of these things mean they do their job less well. Also, toothbrushes get dirty. Bacteria can collect in your toothbrush over time. It is important to replace your toothbrush before those bacteria can damage your teeth or make you sick.

4. MAINTAIN A GOOD DIET

You might be surprised how much of an affect what you eat can have on your teeth. Of course we all know that sugary foods like candy and soda can cause cavities. Some foods can also do your teeth a world of good. Dairy products are high in bone-healthy calcium to strengthen your teeth. Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples and celery can scrape food particles off of teeth and also stimulate saliva production to clean your mouth.

5. SCHEDULE REGULAR PROFESSIONAL CLEANINGS

Even the most diligent tooth-brusher can’t get the same clean that a dental professional can. Many people think it is unnecessary to visit the dentist, but a hygienist can reach places it can be hard to clean on your own. Specialized tools can also get teeth cleaner than a toothbrush can. Your regular dental visit also includes an exam, so we can keep an eye out for any signs of decay or developing problems. For most patients, we recommend visiting the dentist’s office every six months.

What are the signs of a serious dental problem?

You should see your dentist if you experience pain, bleeding gums, swelling, both inside and outside the mouth, tenderness, blisters and ulcers that don’t heal, or noticeable changes in color or texture of the soft tissues. These could all be indications of a serious, or potentially serious condition, such as mouth cancer or chronic gum disease.

The CMH Family Dental Clinic is able to see patients who do not have the ability to pay for dental care in part because of a grant the clinic received from the Virginia Health Care Foundation.

The CMH Family Dental Clinic is accepting new patients. If you need a dentist, please call 434-584-5590.

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