As the first major election season for New York since 2000 begins, the Cornell Democrats not only began their work yesterday with a full plate of issues but also with a strong showing of support from new and returning students.
The Democrats’ first meeting of the year came on the heels of the former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo’s announcement last Tuesday that he was withdrawing from the Democratic race for New York State governor.
While the focus of the meeting was an address to students by State Assembly candidate Dan Lamb, district representative of Congress-member Maurice Hinchey (D-26), several others spoke about issues important to Democratic students.
Joan Moriarty, organizer of CASE-UAW (Cornell Association of Student Employees affiliate of the United Auto Workers) spoke in order to bolster support for the graduate student union and their elections next month. Although Moriarty and other Democrats supporting the union spoke positively about the future of their organizing efforts, Moriarty expressed her dismay at a statement released by President Hunter R. Rawlings III last Wednesday about the union.
“Rawlings lied,” Moriarty said, referring to the president’s implications that unionization of graduate students would “level” their pay scale or cause the cessation of individual differences in pay scales between faculty advisors or RA’s and TA’s.
The statement that Moriarty referred to was released by Rawlings wishing to explain the details of the deal that was reached between CASE-UAW and the school administration during the summer. He described the national conditions for graduate student unionization as a result of a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board allowing graduate student employees at New York University the ability to unionize.
Rawlings continued by expressing his thoughts on how the realities and politics of unionization would play out between students, faculty and administration at Cornell and his hope that students would inform themselves of the details of the situation before voting in October.
Moriarty continued to refer to other statements by Rawlings as lies but felt confident that enough graduate student employees would vote to be represented by the union during elections in October that the group would be victorious. She expressed her confidence that Cornell students would come together to support the unionization of graduate student employees, asking students attending the meeting to help.
“We will train you in how to be a union organizer. It’s not that hard,” Jamison Moore, ’04, president of Cornell Democrats expressed the organization’s support for the organizing student employees.
“Cornell Democrats support CASE-UAW in their effort to organize graduate student. We believe they’ll be successful in October and we’re willing to support
them all the way. We have a good feeling about this year and we know we’ll be able to win on campus, in Ithaca and take back the governor’s mansion,” Moore added, referring to the Democrats’ mission this year overall.
In line with that mission, the rest of the meeting focused on both campus and local politics. After two student trustees supported by the Cornell Democrats, Funa Maduka ’04 and Leslie Barkemeyer ’03, spoke about the role of students on the Board and in the Student Assembly, Representative Lamb spoke on behalf of Congress-member Hinchey.
Although Lamb is himself running for the New York State Assembly this year on the Democratic ticket, he used this time to speak about Hinchey and the work he has done in supporting Cornell and the rest of the district. Hinchey, who has represented the 26th district for 10 years, is running for his sixth term, for which he would represent the 22nd district as of January 1, 2003.
This new district is the result of redistricting which occurred over the summer, due to the fact that New State York’s population decreased with respect to other states in the 2000
census, requiring a reallocation of representatives among the states.
Lamb explained the benefits that Hinchey has been doing Cornell and the rest of the district as a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittees on Agriculture and the Interior. He touted Hinchey’s interest in creating legislation which would protect certain pristine lands in Utah, lands which, in Lamb’s opinion, “President Bush wants to rape and pillage.”
Lamb stressed that Hinchey had fought hard during the complicated redistricting process this summer to maintain the University and his constituents there as part of his district.
He, along with Moore and other leaders of the Cornell Democrats encouraged students in the audience, especially freshmen, to become involved in political life on campus or in Ithaca in some way, emphasizing the importance of freshman elections in late September, the gubernatorial race between the Democratic McCall and the incumbent Pataki, Hinchey’s race, and the State Assembly race between Lamb and four other candidates.
Archived article by Aliza Wasserman