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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Politics at its finest: a voting scandal at Stony Brook University

The Stony Brook College Republicans are claiming that the rally in support of Tim Bishop was endorsed by the university, violating federal election laws and the university’s own policies. (HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)

In recent news, the Stony Brook College Democrats have come under fire from the College Republicans for a rally in support of Tim Bishop that they believed violated federal voting laws.

The College Republicans have claimed that President Bill Clinton’s appearance at the event was confirmed a few days before the event happened, which goes against Stony Brook’s policy of needing at least a weeks’ notice if anyone (that is, a guest) is added to an upcoming event. They are also complaining that Stony Brook’s Listserv program favored the Democratic Party by letting students know about the upcoming Democratic rally, but failing to notify students of any Republican activity.

I think the whole thing is politics at its finest. The Republicans are accusing the Democrats of fraud, the Democrats claim they knew nothing about it, and Clinton chuckles quietly in the background, noticing the terrible irony of the situation.

All jokes aside, I think that the College Democrats should, if there was any wrongdoing on their part, come out and say so. With politics in the balance, I understand why this will never happen, but if you made a mistake, own up to it.

I also sense some validity in the claims the College Republicans have made. For years, Stony Brook University has been regarded as a bastion of liberal thought. In the sixties, Stony Brook University earned the nickname “Berkeley of the East,” attesting to the left-leaning attitude which I would say is still prevalent today.

For instance, let us take a trip down memory lane to early September 2014. For those who do not know, that was when Stony Brook Universities’ fall club fair occurred. If memory serves me correctly, the College Democrats had already filled up an email/sign-up sheet within the first five minutes. The Republican Club, with just three men manning the table, earned maybe half of those signatures during the entirety of the club fair.

So it does not surprise me that Stony Brook showed favoritism towards the Democratic Party. However, just because the university has historic ties to the Democratic Party, that does not mean that the university should have showed any form of favoritism towards the Democratic Party.

It is kind of difficult for Stony Brook to hide behind not advocating for the Democrats. The slogan for the rally was “Get out the Vote!,” which has obvious implications for getting students to vote Democrat, and according to students who attended the rally, much of it was centered around getting people to vote Democrat. If the Republicans were not afforded the same opportunity, which they were not, then the rally should have been either postponed, or the university should have allowed the Republicans to hold a rally of their own, both of which did not happen.

Ultimately, I think that the Republicans should have been granted the same privileges their Democratic counterparts were granted. In this country, we respect free speech and rallies, not censor them. I think this line of thought is something that every American, not just those involved in politics, can agree on.

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  • J

    Ja Young, Alumni Editor, AA E-ZineOct 29, 2014 at 12:34 am

    Having been here in the 70’s, I can personally attest to the fact that Stony Brook was never called the Berkeley of the East seriously, but those were always the words used when describing SB’s future – our goal was to be the Berkeley of the East. I believe it was first spoken by then President John Toll. Here is an example of a letter from the Director of Public Safety in Statesman, Vol 17, No 13 in 1973 where the term is used, and I believe if you do a more thorough search of Statesman’s archives, you will find more:

    Call Security
    To the Editor:
    Several students have called me regarding the incident between Langmuir and James. They were not
    particularly interested in the question of whether “Langmuir sucks” or “James sucks.” They were concerned as to the departmental policy regarding responding to calls. It is the policy of Security to respond to all legitimate calls for assistance. It is not our policy to distinguish between calls from R.A.’s as opposed to calls from Quad Managers, Managerial Assistants, or any student or member of the
    Although broken windows, eggs, toilet paper, and torches hardly seems, to our officers, to characterize Stony Brook as ‘The Berkeley of the East,” we nevertheless are obligated to respond upon receipt of calls for assistance. In the event that, for some reason, our response is not evident, we would appreciate this information being documented and forwarded to my office.
    Joseph Paul Kimble
    Department of Public Safety

  • Z

    zzkOct 28, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    There’s no evidence that Stony Brook was ever referred to as the ‘Berkeley of the East’ Google search is crediting the term to a bunch of different SUNYs (Buffalo, New Paltz) as well as Cornell and a few cities. Historically, anti-war hippies were not allied with the Democrats: It was a Democrat that engaged in Vietnam (Kennedy) and a Republican that effectively ended it (Ford). Obviously times have changed…