Hofstra votes, but for whom?
If you look at the Hofstra Votes program with the mindset that the program was supposed to get people to register to vote and further help students “become involved, well-informed citizens,” a direct quote from President Stuart Rabinowitz’s write-up on the Hofstra Votes official website, then I’d argue that the University only did half of its established goal. Yes, the University did provide the resources to try to get students to register to vote, but the University completely neglected to thoroughly give students the opportunity to hear differing political opinions to make students “well-informed.”
It would be inappropriate for me to say that the University didn’t present any conservative speakers, since it did bring in right-leaning speakers like Jonah Goldberg and Michael Stumo. However, the University did not provide students with any clear opportunities to hear from a non-traditional Democratic politician running for office this election. After all, Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Stumo may lean conservative, but they are not candidates who will appear on a ballot this November.
Hofstra brought in Democratic Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini, held a town hall for New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) and hosted a debate for the New York Democratic Gubernatorial Primary between incumbent Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon. Hofstra could’ve represented the Republican side by hosting local conservative politicians and campaign representatives or by inviting the Republican nominees such as Marc Molinaro, gubernatorial candidate; Ameer Benno, New York’s 4th District House of Representatives candidate; and/or Chele Farley, Senate candidate to talk on campus in some regard.
The lack of political appeal is not just limited to having a conservative opinion given on campus. As far as I can tell, (and I could be wrong about this) there did not seem to be a speaker who came to campus representing a prominent Libertarian or Democratic Socialist politician/political movement this academic school year. Hofstra did host Larry Sharpe, the Libertarian candidate for governor, this past April, but that was prior to the creation of Hofstra Votes.
Having Sharpe, a Libertarian politician, or a Libertarian campaign staffer, along with a Democratic Socialist politician or campaign staffer, would further provide Hofstra students with a wide array of political views and stances. Students might not agree with what they have to say, but it would educate those willing to listen, which is what a place of higher learning should set out to do.
If the University wants to try to save money and continue this program on a yearly basis, a simple solution that requires not bringing in any speakers is providing students with the resources to make educated voting decisions. By simply sending out an email with a list of campaign sites for people who are on the ballot in the 4th District, the school could effectively inform students voting with their Hofstra address about the candidates in this area. Another solution would be informing students about non-partisan resources that provide information about political candidates. (A good website for this is Ballotpedia, which is a non-profit, non-partisan website that provides information on the candidates running in various political races at the federal, state and local levels nationwide.)
What I do concede to Hofstra is this program getting students registered to vote is a good start, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. I hope the University reads this and considers some of what I’ve said to better the program in the future.
Regardless of political affiliation, remember to vote on Nov. 6, but try to do so with an informed decision.