Yonkers Officials Encourage Students To Engage in Local Politics

Yonkers City Hall. Photo courtesy of the Yonkers Tribune. 

Yonkers City Hall. Photo courtesy of the Yonkers Tribune. 

In the wake of the new Trump administration, many students are looking for ways to resist the policies and changes to come.  On January 25, Sarah Lawrence hosted a Yonkers Panel in the Library Pillow Room, where local and state Democratic officials spoke to the community about political action under the new federal government.

The panel was organized by Mara Gross, director of Community Partnerships; Judith Schwartzstein, director of Public Affairs; and some faculty members.  The idea for the event stemmed from desire among the faculty to help Sarah Lawrence students connect with their local officials.  Many students attended the meeting – some had to resort to sitting on the floor or standing. 

Speaking at the panel were two Yonkers city councilmen, Christopher Johnson and Michael Sabatino; two New York State Senators, Andrea Stewart-Cousins and George Latimer; and New York State Assemblymember Shelley Mayer.

Each speaker spoke to the audience for several minutes.  Afterwards, several students presented questions to the panel, concerning topics such as immigration, hate groups, the proposed Muslim registry, LGBTQ discrimination and access to contraception.  

During the event, the panelists emphasized the importance of constant involvement in politics.  State Senator Stewart-Cousins noted, “politics impacts you wherever you are.”  Addressing the urgency of our current political climate, Assemblywoman Mayer said, “the moment is now.”
State Senator Latimer, who serves the state senate district in which Sarah Lawrence exists, spoke of his experience when Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern in 1972, comparing it to our most recent election and saying, “politics was real and it was personal”.  He compared the recent women’s marches to the anti-Vietnam War marches.

Some of the discussion revolved around what students themselves can to do to help, even if they are not registered to vote in Yonkers.  The speakers mentioned multiple local organizations, including the Westchester Young Democrats and Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, with which Sarah Lawrence students can get involved.  The panel also referenced the website swingleft.org, where people can help Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms. The officials added that students should also get involved in their own districts when they return home from school.
Zoe Patterson ’20

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