Learning how and why to vote is an active part of the educational experience at Hostos thanks to Assistant Professor Helen Chang and Associate Professor Sarah Hoiland. As the next critical election nears on November 2 to decide everything from Mayor, district attorney, city propositions to councilmembers, and ballot measures like the Environmental Rights Amendment, the Hostos Votes event held on Tuesday, October 26 for students, faculty, and staff proved to be both fiery and timely.
Moderated by Assistant Professor Chang, Hostos Votes welcomed an impressive panel of guests who shared impassioned contributions on their experiences participating in local and city civic actions. The group appeared for a pre-mayoral live stream discussion, stayed on through the debate, and shared impressions in post-debate discussion.
Hostos President Daisy Cocco De Fillipis welcomed and supported the event and the panelists which included Hostos Student and Politics Club Officer Nickell Mckenzie-Woody, Hostos Student and Politics Club Officer Sadia Zaman, General Manager Craft Restaurant John N. Gargano, Jr. (Hostos ’19, NYU SPS ’21), Co-Founder and President of Uplift NYC Domingo Estevez, and Early College Liaison for Hostos Lincoln Academy Rocio Rayo (Hostos ’11).
“All politics are local,” said Chang, expressing a sentiment shared by President Cocco De Fillipis. “Today we will hear from our panelists on what matters to them in their neighborhoods, their communities and how they engage with democracy at the local level.”
Hostos student Sadia Zaman remarked, “Involving yourself and taking leadership at Hostos is an amazing way to be involved super locally.”
Domingo Estevez emphasized that, “You have to know who controls your money. You have a responsibility not just because you live here but because you contribute in one way or another. I look forward to local [elections]…it’s like everything in life. You set goals for a week, a year, and five years. Local politics is the week, state is the year, and then you have the five-year plan which is the federal government.”
Hostos alumnus John N. Gargano, Jr.’s call to action centered on how important it is to vote by reminding the audience that, “Today, sadly the very people who are affected the most by the decisions of elected people don’t vote. You have to vote.” He later spoke about the broken criminal justice system, how it must be reformed, and how little is getting done by elected officials.
The Mayoral Debate was unfortunately mired in personal attacks which tainted its focus on real issues. Despite the rancorous tone of the mayoral debate, the Hostos Vote panelists doubled down to assert that exercising the right to vote and learning how to vote is essential to keeping democracy alive.
The Hostos Votes event was sponsored by the Hostos President’s Office, the Experiential Learning Opportunities Program (HELO), the Hostos Service Learning and Civic Engagement Committee, the Hostos Lincoln Academy, the Hostos Politics Club, and the JUSTICE Committee.