Manhattan Caucus: October 11


Manhattan Caucus is a column in the news section, which will run weekly until Election Day, offering students a voice in the ongoing presidential elections.

The Washington Post released a video from 2005 on Friday evening in which Trump recounts an instance where he made sexual advances on a married woman, and describes his impulsive physical attraction toward women.

Senior Erika Finan was outraged at the video. “He doesn’t treat people as equals no matter their gender or race. Other students shrugged, and treated it as just another bump in the road to 2016.

“Although it is locker room talk, I’ve been on job sites in our field and guys have said very brutal things,” said senior civil engineering major Kevin Welsh. But Welsh is not willing to give Trump a free pass.

“I think he was a little over the top. That was definitely not presidential,” he added.

“I wish that I was surprised, but I’m not surprised at all,” said sophomore Samantha K. Wilson. “People think that they’re jokes, but if you really think about it… it’s not a joke.”

“I’d be surprised if people are surprised about this,” Wilson added

A copy of Republican nominee Donald J. Trump’s 1995 tax return was obtained and released by The New York Times last Saturday night. The returns show that Trump lost $916 million that year, and The New York Times report said that the shortfall may have allowed him to dodge federal income taxes for eighteen years.

“There’s loopholes there for a reason,” said freshman Ryan Kwiecinski, a registered Republican who plans to vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. “It is technically a business to use it, method and Trump has used it before.”

But Kwiecinski favors the closing of these loopholes.

“I think it needs to be simplified,” he said. He also believes that Trump is a better candidate than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on tax reform.

“You can’t take this issue by itself,” freshman Emily Zielechowski said. “If I’m gonna think of a wrong that Donald Trump has done, I’m going to think of a wrong that Hillary Clinton has done, especially since I’m really torn between who I’m going to vote for.”

Zielechowski finds more fault with Clinton’s use of a private email server than does with Trump’s possible tax evasion.

The Vice Presidential nominees, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, traded barbs Tuesday night at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, for the only televised vice presidential debate. In the debate, Kaine challenged Pence to defend what he called Trump’s “insult driven” campaign, but Pence fired back, calling the Clinton campaign a “an avalanche of insults.”

Most students think that both men were right in this instance, and wish that the campaigns would focus more on issues.

“Both of them are equally doing the same things. All their T.V. ads are just insult on insult on insult,” junior Ellie Siwicki said.

“Both campaigns have kind of been centered around insults. And it just… showed up in both debates,” Kwiecinski said. Kwiecinski, like most students interviewed, is weary of the contentious and personal tone of the campaign, wishing that the candidates focus more on foreign affairs. Kwiecinski believes that both major candidates are too hawkish, which is one reason why he instead plans to vote for Johnson.

Kaine and Pence clashed over immigration. Pence said that “Donald Trump is committed to restoring the borders of this nation.”

“I think if [Trump] does become President, he might try to implement something, but I don’t think it will be as extreme as he says it’s going to be,” Siwicki said.

Kwiecinski believes that Trump’s immigration proposals are not robust enough to address the problem.

“You could build a five-foot wall, but people are just going to get six foot ladders,” Kwiecinski said, referring to the border wall, which Trump has billed as the focal point of his immigration policy.

Ultimately, the debate will not matter much, according to Margaret Groarke, Ph.D., assistant professor of government. She has found little to no correlation between V.P. debate performance and election results. In fact, according to Groarke, even the candidates themselves do not matter very much.

“It has a rather marginal effect on the outcome, I think, in most cases,” Groarke said.

New York’s voter registration deadline is this Friday, Oct. 14. A few on-campus clubs have held voter registration drives. Just Peace, a campus ministry and social action club, held a voter registration drive on the Founder’s Bridge last Wednesday.

“We were concerned with the amount of non-voters and people who aren’t registered to vote, or don’t know that they need absentee ballots,” said club co-president Sarah Kissane. She said she believes this election is more important than elections past.

“I think because it is so divided right now, currently between Trump and Hillary. And I think a lot of people are just choosing not to vote because they’re just angry with what’s their option for President,” Kissane said of the stakes in this election.

The Government & Politics Club held its drive Thursday afternoon in the McGrath Lounge in Kelly Commons as part of the non-partisan All-In Challenge, a voter registration competition involving nearly 200 college campuses in 38 states.

“There’s a thing going around the country on all college campuses where there’s a competition to see which campus can get the most students registered to vote for this election,” said Government and Politics Club president Kaitlin Greiner.

“It’s not about getting people to vote for Trump and Clinton, or anybody else, it’s just about increasing the numbers of college students who participate in the election,” Groarke said.

According to Groarke, about 45 percent of 18- to 29- year olds participated in the 2012 election, but turnout at Manhattan was lower, at just 35 percent.

Groarke’s mission, and the mission of the Government & Politics Club (for which she is the faculty advisor) is to defeat political apathy on campus. Greiner shares this mission and, as president of the club, is trying to make Manhattan a more politically inclusive and tolerant campus.

“I think we need to be more mindful of those students who have different political beliefs that’s not maybe the majority on campus,” Greiner said. “I feel like often times their speech is limited.”

Clinton and Trump debated last night at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Student reaction to this debate will be covered in the next issue of Manhattan Caucus.