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Students watch Cuomo, Nixon face-off
Pipe Dream (SUNY Binghamton), August 30, 2018
Roughly 20 students gathered in Lecture Hall 8 Wednesday night to watch incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo face off with Cynthia Nixon in the only New York Democratic gubernatorial debate of 2018.
Afterward, attendees also viewed a livestreamed response from Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for governor.
The debate touched on issues like corruption in Albany, the state of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the legalization of marijuana and health care in the state. The debate-viewing event, organized by Students Organized Against Reynolds (SOAR), College Progressives and Democracy Matters, was intended to encourage political engagement from students on campus.
In May 2018, SOAR and other local activist groups wrote and sent a letter to all gubernatorial candidates about their stances against the use of the sweatshop practices that take place at Reynolds Corp. factories. In the letter they criticized Cuomo, stating that he has endorsed sweatshop practices within the state.
The letter also criticized Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger, claiming that he has consistently supported sweatshop labor practices by allowing the University to use Reynolds products.
The demands in the letter included asking the next New York governor to support BU students’ boycott against Reynolds Corp.
While the candidates did not directly address the letter, Hawkins discussed some of the letter’s demands, including his opposition to legalizing 24-hour shifts and his support of providing split shifts for workers.
Some students, like George Elliot, found the debate helpful in confirming who they were voting for in the primary. Elliot, an undeclared freshman, said that he plans on voting for Nixon and the debate helped confirm his beliefs about both candidates.
“It’s a good thing Cuomo is being challenged from the left, but we have to remember Nixon is only having success because of grassroots organizing to resist the onslaught of climate change, displacement and violence against the poor and disenfranchised,” Elliot said.
Anthony Georgiou, an undeclared freshman, heard about the viewing from a College Progressives meeting and said this type of forum helps mobilize people to get involved.
“I wouldn’t have found out about this whole debate if it weren’t for this public avenue, so I feel like for people who maybe want to be into politics but miss certain memos, it’s good to just get the word out there,” Georgiou said.