With Bernie Sanders within striking distance of Hillary Clinton in the presidential race and the New York primary just around the corner, members of student advocacy groups congregated to participate in a debate hosted by the NYU Democrats this past Monday.
Debaters supporting Sanders and Clinton discussed questions about immigration, representation of women and racial minorities, foreign policy and the economy. NYU advocacy groups, such as LUCHA, Shades, SLAM, the Muslim Student Union, ISO, Generasian and Women in Tech, questioned the debaters on issues that are prominent within their own agendas as organizations.
One question posed by the group Generasian confronted the lack of political participation within the Asian American community. Tisch freshman Andy Zhang, arguing in support of Clinton, addressed this issue by discussing Clinton’s immigration policy.
“[Clinton] is addressing not just the congregation of Asian Americans but also potential immigrants to America,” Zhang said. “She has a plan to target the visa backlog where someone can apply for a visa and not get one for decades. She wants to address this issue.”
Sanders supporter and CAS freshman Trevor Hill highlighted a way that Sanders’ plans to allow all immigrants a chance to become more politically active.
“He wants to make it easier to register to vote,” Hill said. “He supports unanimous voter registration regardless of their ID or their social security number or what country you came from.”
Women in Tech asked the debaters: why do private companies get to monitor what people are allowed to see on the internet? With current broadband industries imposing price caps, there has been a discussion surrounding unequal access to the internet. Known more colloquially as net neutrality, activists say that cable companies charging consumers more for high-speed internet would prevent underserved communities from equally engaging in public discourse online.
Stern senior Natasha Mathur said Clinton does not have a plan for this issue, but negotiation with these companies is possible.
“This is a very complicated situation,” Mathur said. “While Senator Sanders has opened a plan, it doesn’t necessary mean it’s the right one. We cannot do whatever we want in a company, we also have to look at what [companies] are providing.”
Hill’s rebuttal focused on Sanders’ goal regarding internet limitations, mainly why it is important that everyone has access to the internet.
“I find this issue to not be very complicated,” Hill said. “Equal access to the internet is extremely important. Bernie has unequivocally supported regulations on companies that allow certain people to pay for quicker access to the internet and people suffer from their economic situation.”
Although arguments were presented on both sides and no side was declared the winner, the supporters of Hillary admitted their lack of strength in the closing remarks.
“I clearly came unprepared to this debate,” Zhang said.
Gallatin freshman Austin Serio recognized Zhang’s statement as a large downfall for the Hillary supporters.
“You can’t say something like that,” Serio said. “I think that just showed in general that the Hillary side was scrambled and I think that the Bernie side was very prepared.”
Serio also pointed out that the Clinton side was making false claims regarding the former secretary of state, saying that she supports the movement for a $15 national minimum wage — dubbed the Fight for $15 — but only in metropolitan areas.
“The fight for $15 is nationwide or nothing,” Serio said. “She takes the middle ground but this issue is one way or the other.”
The New York voters will ultimately decide who they believe truly takes a strong stance on these issues in the upcoming primary.
Email Brooke Jensen at [email protected]