Hofstra made the right decision on the debate
Last week it was announced that Hofstra did not submit a bid to host the 2020 presidential debate. Hofstra has held the presidential debate for the last three election cycles; it is what the University has come to be known for. But what if we could be known for something else? What if Hofstra became the first university to pay New York state minimum wage by 2020? Or what if Hofstra invested in a larger and more eco-friendly recycling program? What if Hofstra put in a commuter parking garage or extended the hours of the night shuttle? Maybe Hofstra could be the school that eliminates all forms of hazing or addresses Title IX issues head on as opposed to damage control.
These are all possibilities, but the reality is that the needs of the Hofstra student body are not being met. Hofstra claims to be listening to our concerns but every time a student brings up an issue that is more than slightly challenging, it is dismissed or redirected in a way that leaves you scratching your head, wondering what just happened. The powers that be have made it look like they are listening, but have only selected the easiest requests to address. It is great that we have a gazebo next to the Student Center and a full-service Starbucks, but what if the University also addressed bias and discrimination on campus?
Hofstra should use the time and resources it would have devoted to the 2020 presidential debate to listening to and meeting the needs of students. The Jefferson Has Gotta Go! campaign has been asking for a tip line where students can report discriminatory behaviors and mandatory cultural competency training for faculty for two years.
I will concede that Hofstra has made some changes to accommodate our needs, but only after persistent, drawn-out and often painful advocacy from students. Hofstra relies on its concerned students to find ways to patch a problem within the cracked bureaucratic infrastructure, but there is only so much a student advisory board can do if the University administration is not willing to listen to its recommendations. Sure, it is disappointing that our university decided against submitting a bid, but there is so much more Hofstra can do to prevent the constant disappointment the collective student body feels when one of the highest-ranking members of the University’s overarching administration dodges accountability at a “town hall” meeting meant to hear and address the concerns of students.
So, Hofstra students, faculty and administrators, do not let this opportunity to start a larger conversation pass. The debate is fun and exciting, but there are so many more important things that we as a school need to address. The debate is one day every four years, but the average student attends college for three to five years. The needs of the student body should take precedence. The presidential debate is a symbol of change; two candidates discussing what they see as positive changes for the United States. Let’s make Hofstra a symbol of positive change, whether we hold the debate or not.