Campus Votes for....!?
Part of a series on politics on campus, the Justice spoke with leaders of Brandeis for Bernie and Brandeis for Warren.
Brandeis’ mission statement claims that the University prepares students for “full participation in a changing society,” and with over 20 political and activist student organizations, a political event on campus is not a rare sight. Some of these groups and events laud specific candidates, while others focus on exchanging ideas. In the first part of this two-part exploration of politics on campus, the Justice spoke with representatives of Brandeis for Bernie and Brandeis for Warren about their organizing for the 2020 campaign.
Addie Morang ’20, one of the core organizers of Brandeis for Bernie, sat down for an interview, while Alison Hagani ’22, a coordinator for Brandeis for Warren, answered the Justice’s questions through email. Both clubs were asked the same questions, so that each club had an equal forum to express ideas and so that readers can understand the differences and similarities between them.
What events have you organized on campus so far? What kind of events are you planning to do?
Morang: We had our kick-off meeting which [was] really cool; a lot of people came to that. We’ve done a little bit of canvassing as well. We did tabling in Usdan, which is giving out stickers and stuff. Also, we also did a dorm storm for the first time, and basically just knocked on people’s doors and see if they would like to talk about Bernie. We will also have one canvassing event on Nov. 2 in New Hampshire. … I think this is another cool part about [working on] Bernie’s campaign — because you can see so many different groups working in the Boston area.
Hagani: Brandeis for Warren has directed most of our efforts towards providing Brandeis students with opportunities to get involved and stay engaged. For example, our Instagram educates individuals on Elizabeth Warren’s policies while promoting our events. So far, we have organized a canvassing Day of Action in New Hampshire every month. For these days of action, Brandeis for Warren has provided students with the transportation and the means to collectively go to New Hampshire and canvass for Elizabeth Warren. For both of these opportunities, members were able to make a difference by informing voters in a crucial primary state and meeting other Warren supporters in the process. We also have organized a Debate Watching Party so that members have a place to watch and discuss the debate. We had our first General Meeting on October 28 at 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., and have our second one on November 7 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Skyline’s Multipurpose Room. Anyone is welcome.
What is the reason for choosing your candidate in 2020 election? Please elaborate on the significance of it.
Morang: I mostly chose Bernie because he is the most consistent candidate and he is the most progressive candidate. He’s been saying stuff other candidates in the field haven’t really been on the top of. He has been saying them for a long time. On Twitter, there are so many videos of him saying the same stuff that he is saying in the election now. He is the most progressive candidate and he would be the hardest on the top one percent. I think he truly believes that there are policies like Medicare For All and a Green Deal that we don’t have to compromise for, whereas a lot of other candidates are sort of making micro steps towards the goal, Bernie is just like all in. For example, Bernie has probably the most comprehensive Green Deal and is unapologetic about that. I mean, this is a trillion dollars over a ten-year period. Other candidates can’t even get close to that. He also has this great workplace democracy plan, which does a lot to allow workers to unionize. He’s also putting a lot of money into rehabilitation programs for people incarcerated for minor marijuana-related crimes.
One of the reasons why he appeals to so many people, especially young people, is because the two-party system has shown that it is not effective at all. So him coming in as sort of an outsider from both parties is something I think that will help his campaign in the end.
I think someone really believes in progressive value and the value Brandeis advocates. A lot of people would ask, “Why not a woman? Why not a person of color?” but I think it comes down to who really has the policies to affect these communities.
Hagani: I think everyone has their own reasons for supporting Elizabeth Warren and especially for choosing her over the mass of other Democratic candidates vying for the primary nomination. Personally, I think Elizabeth Warren is the most impressive candidate in the race and the candidate most equipped to take on Donald Trump in the 2020 election. In addition to her consistent increase in the polls, Elizabeth Warren is a candidate who inspires involvement and who fights for the values and needs of all Americans. Her consistent stream of plans exemplify why many individuals, including myself, are drawn to her: not only her plans [are] numerous, but each plan is extensive, detailed, and intersectional. Furthermore, her plans cover issues pertinent to a wide array of Americans, demonstrating how her presidency would benefit so many individuals in so many different ways. In retrospect, it’s surprising that such an impressive, clear stream of plans has not been the presidential norm or more common in campaigns before. It’s inspiring and amazing that Elizabeth Warren is positively shaping the presidential standard; not only is she redefining what a president can look like and be, but she is setting a bar on the caliber of specific and positive plans, priorities, and passion needed to have to be considered for President of the United States.
How would you envision Brandeis’ future if your candidate gets elected? In other words, in what way do you think Brandeis will be influenced?
Morang: First of all, I think a lot of student debts will be cancelled. All of it, actually, will be cancelled, which will allow students to not have to work a ton. … A lot of students currently are working either on a part-time job or their federal work study, and [debt cancelation] will help students to focus on education instead of worrying about making the next payment due. Also, for his Green New Deal, I really want students to be involved with implementing it. The thing about Bernie Sanders is that he is real about the amount of work it takes to enact the policy. He doesn’t say, “If you elect me, I will get this, this and this done.” He’s actually making a call upon the people in America to rally together and organize so that we can get things through Congress, get the amount of money that will preserve a Green New Deal, and also tax billionaires. These things don’t really happen unless we are organized and mobilized. In terms of Brandeis, I really hope to see, if Bernie Sanders wins, some mobilization, organization and action from students on campus.
Hagani: Our current president is someone who has promoted and encouraged hate that, in various ways and in varying degrees, affects so many members of the Brandeis community. Having a woman president with progressive policies would make it so that schools like Brandeis are less subject to hateful rhetoric, harness greater empathy, and are more inclusive and safer for various marginalized individuals.
Furthermore, Elizabeth Warren advocates for tuition free public college so that college is more accessible and affordable. If public colleges become free and thus greatly more accessible and convenient for students, Brandeis might have to lower their tuition to compete. In this way, free public tuition may inevitably lower private college costs. Lower college costs not only benefit students on an individual level, but also allow for more diversity within Brandeis as a community.
How would you describe the students in the club?
Morang: It’s honestly a really fun club. We always talk about Bernie-related stuff. They are super motivated and willing to put in the work. Because at the end of the day, the election depends on us. You would expect there to be a lot of Politics majors, but we have a good array of students — some are in Politics and some are in different sciences. For example, I am a Computer Science major myself. So it is really great to meet with these motivated and fun people.
Hagani: I don’t like to generalize the students involved with Brandeis for Warren or to generalize Warren supporters, but I will say that we all share the same passion to unite for a candidate who we believe will not only beat Donald Trump, but will do the most for our country.