The national spotlight was on Hofstra for the day of the presidential debate on September 26th, but members of our campus community were not just focused on the candidates themselves. The Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives and Peace Action Matters at Hofstra organized a peaceful demonstration to give current issues and those students who advocated on their behalf a piece of that spotlight. Issues of concern included exclusionary rhetoric toward immigrants, police brutality toward the black community, LGBT+ rights on campus, military aggression overseas, environmental sustainability, and women’s health issues. Over 100 concerned Hofstra students marched with signs expressing issues that most touched their lives or that they felt were most important.
CCE Fellow Natasha Rappazzo spearheaded the demonstration: “The whole purpose of the peace zone and rally was to create a non-partisan space to talk about the issues, not the candidates.” During the debate itself, candidates did not touch on these issues except for racism in America. Still, some of the demonstrators felt that it did not suggest the kind of meaningful change that they were hoping for. Natasha commented, “Hillary acknowledged that there is an implicit racial bias in most people, and that is important, but changing the way the ‘communities’ interact with each other is not the change America needs. There needs to be a dismantling of the power structures that reinforce institutional racism.” They were also concerned with the candidates’ discussion of intensifying airstrikes to take down ISIS. Just 9 days before the debate, dozens of unintended targets were killed in U.S. airstrikes over Syria, exactly the kind of violence that feeds the cycle of unrest in the region and violates human rights.
“Peace Action Matters, Campus Feminist Collective, and the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives don’t plan on stopping… I think my main goal as an organizer for these groups is student empowerment. I want students to know that their opinions are valid and that they deserve a platform to share their thoughts.” Natasha invites all interested students to the Campus Feminist Collective, which meets at 7pm each Tuesday in Student Center 142, or contact her about upcoming initiatives with Peace Action Matters at email@example.com.