Fair Elections for NY
February 27, 2012
By Joan Mandle
College students have always played a critical role in the fight for social justice. And the campaign for Fair Elections NY is no exception. This is especially true for students active in New York campus chapters of the national student organization, Democracy Matters (DM). They have enthusiastically joined the exciting campaign for a public campaign financing option in our state.
Democracy Matters students have already begun mobilizing others on their campuses. For example, last week at Union College in Schenectady, the Democracy Matters chapter organized an event that attracted over one hundred students and faculty. Union DM had invited Congressman Paul Tonko to give a speech about the threat to democracy of big, private money in politics and the need for public financing of elections. Congressman Tonko not only strongly endorsed the effort to reform New York’s campaign finance rules, but urged the students to get involved. Organizers from Citizen Action of New York also addressed the crowd, inviting them to join the campaign. The DM Campus Coordinator at Union, Gabriella Levine, reported that the event was an “incredible success,” and wrote about it in an article for the campus newspaper.
In another example of student activism, DMers at SUNY Geneseo held a tabling event, asking students to call their state representatives and urge them to support Governor Cuomo’s call for campaign finance reform. In just three days, over 40 calls were made to Geneseo’s state representatives. On other DM campuses including Syracuse University and Binghamton University, students are collecting signatures on petitions to take with them when they visit the offices of their state representatives for meetings in the coming weeks.
The Colgate University Democracy Matters chapter got creative on February 14th and sent hand-made Valentines to Governor Cuomo, their Senator and their Assemblyman. The cards thanked them for advocating fairness and equality in New York by supporting the public financing of election campaigns. And in an on-going action, Democracy Matters members are also urging their faculty and administrators to sign on to an “Academics Letter” that articulates their support for reform. Sign on here!
If you know of college or high school students who would like to get involved, simply email Democracy Matters’ Executive Director, Joan Mandle (
). DM students throughout the spring will continue to work for an end to the flood of big private money that is undermining our democracy. We hope you will join us!