Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

September 27, 2016

Cornell Minority Groups Lament Presidential Election Picks

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The Arab Student Association and the Native American Students at Cornell have stressed that there is much at stake for minorities in the 2016 presidential election. Many say they would not be entirely satisfied by either a Trump or Clinton presidency.

“While each of us has a different opinion, we have all come to the consensus that this election is not ideal, the candidates are not ideal,” ASA said, speaking to both candidates’ platforms.

In a statement, NASAC said its group members were “surprised” that Trump has been able to gain such a following considering the “bluntly prejudiced” platform he has advanced against minority groups throughout the election season. NASAC also expressed concern that the policies enacted under a Trump presidency could be harmful to the Native Americans living in the United States.

“Trump has demonstrated no understanding of tribal sovereignty, so many worry that because of that he would effectively start another termination period for Native nations,” NASAC said.

The group added that Trump would likely cut important programs, funding and services for those living on reservations, saying this approach would continue to marginalize Native Americans.

According to NASAC, Trump could enact changes more harmful to the Native American community than Clinton, but their statement stressed that the group is not content with the democratic candidate’s campaign either.

“As an organization, we are not particularly too fond of Hillary Clinton and have no such reason to be, but we are sticking with her due to the fact that she is currently the best option out of the ones we were presented for president,” NASAC said. “Were we all to vote third party we run the risk of allowing the Republican candidate to reach the oval office.”

NASAC emphasized that many minorities are in danger of losing their rights, depending on the outcome of this election.

“If Donald Trump were to win, he would favor the upper white class almost exclusively rather than worry about many of the minorities in America,” NASAC said.

ASA said both candidates would not only be harmful to minorities in the United States, but their foreign policy ideas would also provoke international turmoil.

“As Arabs, we are not only concerned for public perceptions of Arabs within the United States, but we are also concerned with international policy,” ASA said. “We do not think either of the candidates’ platforms on foreign policy will be of help to the Arab world.”

Both groups stressed the importance of all students turning out to vote in November. Additionally, ASA urged voters to take founding principles into consideration when deciding between the two candidates.

“[The United States] was founded by immigrants who sought life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” ASA said. “Many who came over were looking to escape oppression, religious persecution and violence. Many Arabs as well as other minorities are looking to do the same.”

The group said it is concerned about low voter turnout among minorities this November. To counter this fear, ASA set up a voter registration booth Tuesday on Ho Plaza to encourage the Cornell community to vote.

“We would like to call on all minorities at Cornell and the United States to form a united front against racism and discrimination as well as any violence or oppression used against foreign countries,” ASA said.

NASAC expressed a similar sentiment in discussing why students should vote.

“We cannot have a president who is so clearly prejudiced against minority groups considering America is composed of minority groups and began with minority groups,” NASAC said. “Voters should consider that their vote is not only affecting their lives but affecting the lives of countless other people.”

NASAC also said they hope that during the debate season, candidates focus on racial inequality and its effect on the economy, as well as cultural sensitivity on college campuses and the subsequent effect on education.