Nevertheless, the Hofstra campus is abuzz with talk about the upcoming debate. “It’s really exciting,” said Chris Remington, 21, a senior from central New Jersey who is majoring in radio production and economics. “I haven’t seen the campus so politically motivated. To be part of the national discussion is empowering.”
No doubt, the presidential race is keeping Hofstra’s student journalists on the move. WRHU sent teams of reporters to the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Bill Goddenough, 21, of Mamaroneck, in Westchester County, covered the Democratic convention and interviewed Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, both of whom have previously run for president. “It’s a busy season for us at Hofstra,” Goddenough said.
Kayla Rivara, 21, a political science and global studies major from Shoreham, in Suffolk, who is also with WRHU, said she was pleased to see West at Hofstra. “I’m hoping to hear from Cornel West what we won’t be hearing during the debates,” Rivara said minutes before the speaker’s arrival. The candidates, no matter their political party, will talk about “Wall Street and Main Street,” said Rivara, but “they will not talk about the people living on the streets.”
“Americans don’t want to reflect on the system,” she continued. “It’s easier to say, ‘You’re poor because you’re lazy.’”
Sondra Townsend-Browne, deputy executive director of Nassau County’s Economic Opportunity Commission, came to hear West speak. “Poverty isn’t sexy,” Townsend-Browne said. “The war on poverty wages on, [but] it’s not a priority on anyone’s agenda.”
The keys to overcoming poverty in America are education and activism, said West, who has taught at Union Theological Seminary, Harvard and Princeton, and who most recently authored “The Rich and the Rest of Us,” one of his 20 books.
“Greatness has to do with the quality of [your] service to others,” he said during his address.
Prof. Kelly Fincham, the adviser to the Long Island Report, said Hofstra’s student journalists will blog and tweet from campus during the debate. Her hope, Fincham said, is that students become engaged in the political process because of the debate.
For more on Hofstra presidential debate events, check out www.hofstra.edu.