It’s no secret that Bernie Sanders is popular among millennials, and at his Washington Square Park rally on Wednesday, he addressed many concerns NYU students are taking into account for the 2016 election. WSN broke down Sanders’ speech and his appeal to Generation Y.
Sanders has long advocated for all public colleges and universities to become tuition-free. While such a change would not apply to a private university like NYU, student debt is still one of the greatest concerns for young voters. The specifics of his platform are outlined in his proposed College for All Act, which also includes expanding federal work study and part-time employment programs on college campuses.
During his speech, Sanders spoke of redefining public education and said that the country should be rewarding people who get the education they need, not punishing them with thousands of dollars of debt.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people out there who are qualified but cannot go to college because their families lack the funds,” Sanders said. “I want every kid in this country, who grew up in families like mine without a lot of money, to know that if they take school seriously, despite the income of their families, they can get higher education.”
Many students also favor the Vermont senator’s proposal of instituting a national wage increase to $15 an hour. Recently, President Hamilton announced NYU will implement the same increase for student workers over the next three years.
During the rally, Sanders said his campaign is sending a message to corporate America that they cannot have it all, and need to take action to provide workers with livable wages.
“That is what the revolution is about,” Sanders said. “We are going to create an economy that works for everyone. We’re going to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.”
Criminal Justice Reform
Concerns regarding diversity and inclusion have also been a staple of the Sanders’ campaign and mirrors the growing movement for equality within NYU, such as the Incarceration to Education Coalition’s latest sit-in at the Kimmel Center for University Life.
The IEC occupied the building for more than 36 hours to demand administration take action to abolish questions regarding disciplinary action and criminal history from its Common Application — questions they say target individuals from marginalized communities. In fact, Sanders directly addressed the state of the criminal justice system during his speech.
“Today some kid in New York City gets arrested for possession of marijuana, and will carry that charge with him for the rest of his life,” Sanders said. “But if you are an executive on Wall Street, you get an increase in your compensation package. We need to bring justice back into the criminal justice system… We need to invest in jobs and education and not jails and incarceration.”
The crowd responded well to Sanders’ speech, cheering regularly throughout. However, we’ll have to see if his enthusiasm will translate into votes next Tuesday during the New York primary.
“If everyone comes out and votes, we’ve got a surprise for the establishment,” Sanders said.
Email Anne Cruz and Lexi Faunce at [email protected]