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DSU students, staff react to election results

DSU students, faculty and alumni gather at the Blue Hawks Hub to watch local and national election results. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press

Dickinson State University students, faculty and alumni gathered in the Blue Hawk Hub in the student center to watch local and national election results.

The audience followed the U.S. Senate race between Heidi Heitkamp and Kevin Cramer.

The giant screen displaying NBC projected a large graphic showing Heitkamp in a several percentage point lead over Cramer, to the excitement of a woman in the crowd.

Seconds later, the display had changed and the scroll at the bottom of the screen showed the numbers reversed, with Cramer in the lead. Her husband pointed it out to her, and she threw her hands up.

"You want another piece of pizza?" he asked her.

She laughed. "No, I can't eat myself out of this."

Sovi Herring, state officer for the North Dakota Student Association, is a Republican and wanted Cramer to win, but didn't think he would. She was pleasantly surprised.

"I'm very excited," she said. "With any politician, you don't agree with them 100 percent of the way. As long as he keeps doing the work that he's been doing, I think it will end up being a really good next couple of years for sure."

Views on measure three were not as divided as the senate race. Democrats and Republicans in the room found common ground.

Randy Cummings, DSU alumni, was in favor of Measure 3, which would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

He said that he was in favor of it because of comparative law jurisprudence.

"Comparative law jurisprudence," he explained, "says look at other systems and see how they're behaving and see if we're consistent with that."

He pointed out that Canada and states in the U.S. have legalized it.

"The whole movement is going in that direction," he said. "Why go against the grain there? How do you call a citizen in North Dakota a criminal for doing the same thing that someone in California's doing?"

He also said that far too many people are incarcerated for drug use and that people are more likely to do it because it is illegal.

Stefanie Aulner, DSU student, also supports Measure 3. She said she doesn't think there has been the repercussions of legalizing it that people thought there would be.

"There's not like drug dealers on every corner and 10-year-olds walking around with joints and edibles," she said.

She also supports it because it could bring in tax revenue and it would allow police to "spend more time focusing on actual crime." She compared smoking marijuana to smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.

Though she supports the measure, she doesn't think it will pass.

"There's too much fear. I think with anything, when people don't understand something or they don't know, it automatically breeds fear... They're afraid of what might happen, not what could happen."

Ultimately, the measure did not pass.

Cummings said he thinks it didn't pass because of the idea that the government would be frequently sued for failing to release those incarcerated for marijuana related crimes, an argument he called a red herring.

Herring wasn't surprised.

"It's expected," she said. "I don't think a whole lot of people were educated enough on the measure to begin with in order to vote."

She added that she thinks it will be an issue in which a majority of states will have to pass it before North Dakota does.

The event was organized by DSU League of Political Scientists, the DSU History Society, the College Election Engagement Project (CEEP), and the DSU College Republicans.