Students’ rally in run-up to Hofstra’s presidential debate

The following article originally appeared in slightly different form in the Hofstra Chronicle

Energy around the 2016 presidential debate could be felt all over the Hofstra campus on Monday, September 26th. For students much of that energy was concentrated in ‘Issue Alley’ at the Student Center where student organizations were rallying.

Every group on campus, from the Campus Feminist Collective (CFC) to Hofstra’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had the opportunity to make their voice heard.

The Black Student Union and NAACP joined forces, waking up at as early as 3:00 a.m. to silently protest behind CNN’s live broadcast. Students protesting wore all black clothing and held their hands in the air. Both organizations also did a piece with SP!T – Spoken Word and Poetry Influencing Thought – on Black Lives Matter.

Issues regarding race dominated the alley, as well as the humanitarian crisis in Syria, mental health and foreign policy.

“It’s very difficult being a Latin American in the United States. I personally feel grateful to be here at Hofstra and be able to get my education, knowing that many Latin Americans don’t get this opportunity,” Estefania Ramirez, from Hofstra’s Organization of Latin Americans, said.

Another organization represented was the Teenage Immigrant Integration Association. Cem Gokhan, a member of the club, explained how their focus is immigration issues. “We help [immigrants] integrate into society so they don’t feel as marginalized by people,” he said.

A second highly vocalized topic of the election cycle found on Issue Alley was women’s rights and reproductive rights.

“Everyone, regardless of age, sex, gender and class should have access to reproductive health care … It’s a right everyone deserves,” Roseanna Zerambo, president of Student Advocates for Safer Sex (SASS) said.

The CFC used this time to debunk the misconceptions of feminism.

“While most people think the feminist movement solely focuses on women’s issues and protesting things like men paying for dinner and anti-stay-at-home moms, every issue is a feminist issue,” Olivia Patterson said.

Hofstra’s Habitat for Humanity was also at Issue Alley raising awareness about affordable housing. With their current blue jean drive, they are collecting old denim, then shredding it and turning it into insulation for houses. Members wore blue shirts that read “Loved. Worn. Reborn. Give old denim new purpose.”

There were different stations set up around the room put on by members of the Hofstra staff. Freebies were given away, as well as raffles for participation in other activities. Students had the option to make a political button, write about their issues on a flag that will be displayed on campus or stamp a star on the window in their political party’s color.

Gray Kennedy, a senior community health major said, “A lot of the issues I’m really passionate about are covered here … It’s great to see people standing up for our basic human rights.”