Bernie Sanders may be coming to UB
Students start online petition for Democratic presidential candidate to come to campus
Bernie Sanders will likely make his way to Buffalo before the end of the semester.
Josh Herman, a sophomore geography major and member of UB Progressives, has created an online petition to bring the Democratic presidential candidate to UB specifically. The petition, on Change.org, had more than 2,300 signatures at the time of publication.
The petition, which encourages support from the student body and local Buffalo residents, has been active since last week and is sponsored by both UB Progressives and UB College Democrats.
“I chose to focus on bringing him to UB because of the positive things I’ve heard about Senator Sanders from students,” Herman said. “An issue that is probably too familiar to you and me, student debt, is one of the issues that Senator Sanders is passionate about fixing and I think that connects with a huge group of students here on campus.”
Dillon Smith, Student Association Senate chair and a member of UB Progressives who volunteers for Sanders’ campaign, stressed that bringing Sanders to Buffalo has been a team effort from the entire group. He said that members have worked hard to up the chances Sanders will schedule a visit for the Queen City.
“I have it from the Western New York Bernie representative that it’s about a 90 percent chance Bernie will come to Buffalo in the coming weeks,” Smith, a junior political science major, said.
Sanders and Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton are both visiting the state of New York this week in preparation for the state’s April 19 Democratic primary. Both WGRZ and WIVB have reported that Clinton is coming to Buffalo to campaign this week.
If Sanders comes to UB, it opens the door for other candidates like Clinton and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump to come speak as well.
According to Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara Ricotta the issue isn’t whether or not UB could host Sanders, but whether or not its willing to open the door to all the other politicians who may want to come to the university in light of Sanders’ appearance.
She said Sanders speaking on campus would require UB to allow every other presidential candidate an equal opportunity to speak on campus if they wished to.
“Once you invite one candidate, it opens the door for all the others,” Ricotta said. “We have to treat all of them the same and give them access to the same opportunity.”
And if Sanders speaks, UB would have to follow the same protocol, such as facilities, security and ticket organization, with the other candidates as it did with Sanders.
Ricotta said The Office of Special Events and SA should be making the final decision in the upcoming week.
Campaigns will often pay for a portion of the event themselves, as it’s good publicity for their candidate. The event committee can put stipulations on the event like allotting a certain amount of seats for undergraduates.
Students are excited about the prospect of having a presidential candidate come to the university but even more so, what kind of doors this appearance could open.
Connor Cook, a sophomore biology major, thinks the senator’s appearance could be beneficial.
“I think it could be good publicity for UB,” Cook said. “I’m right in the middle [of the political spectrum] so I just think it would be interesting to hear him speak.”
Whether or not students are Sanders supporters, they see a potential Sanders’ visit to UB as a positive step toward political awareness.
Megan Warrington, a sophomore psychology and sociology major, thinks that Buffalo is a city on the rise.
“I follow politics but I don’t really have a preference,” Warrington said. “I like to hear the opinions of everyone.”
Smith thinks that college is the time to experiment with political activism.
“We want to foster progressive thought, push progressive action and enact progressive change,” Smith said.
UB Progressives is not an official SA club but is working toward temporary club status. The group aims to get students active in politics. Though the group itself is bipartisan, members of the leadership are supporters of Sanders.
One of the group’s biggest causes is to act as a forum to connect UB students with the City of Buffalo and tie in local movements with the campus.
Herman is one member of UB Progressives who was instrumental in the group’s voter registration efforts on campus. UB Progressives held a voter registration event last Friday to help students take steps to vote in the primaries.
Herman, like Smith, doesn’t want to live in a world he has no say.
“Voting participation among college kids is awful,” Smith said. “We have to live with whatever choice is made in April and November.”
Tori Roseman is the senior features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.