Politics at Pace: Majority of SWAP members rally for Sanders
By Ariel Miller
In the past couple of months, the election has been a hot topic among students at Pace University, especially with members of the Pace student organization, Successful Women At Pace (SWAP). The mission of SWAP revolves around creating a network of young women focused on improving their personal and professional lives through networking relationships. When women of SWAP, of whom the majority are feminists, discuss the election, subjects such as the question of gender roles and the topic of millennial feminism arise.
Millennial feminism diverges from feminist movements of the past in that it uses social media as a means of setting up rallies and to spread the word. In this election season it seems that some of the hotly debated questions among millennial feminists are: Would a female president fight for women’s rights better than a man would? Or, could a male president be even better equipped to promote women’s rights? Should gender even matter? The main candidates among millennial feminists are Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton. Pace News asked three women in SWAP to discuss their thoughts on whether they think Hilary or Bernie would do the best job in actively upholding their rights as women.
Yesterday, four women in SWAP including its treasurer, Katelyn Lacroix, discussed their opinions on the presidential candidates with Pace News. Lacroix talked about SWAP’s attitude towards the election, “SWAP does not advocate for any specific candidate. We do advocate for the Democratic Party. An overwhelming majority of SWAP members do support Bernie. SWAP has held meetings on political elections that cover registering to vote, applying for absentee ballots, informing members on the political process and breaking down known political stances of individual candidates.” The women of SWAP are dedicated to the importance of the female voice in this election. Thus leaders of SWAP are attempting to educate their members on how to become more involved politically.
R.S., a junior at Pace University and member of SWAP, supports Sanders because she believes that he has consistently supported Planned Parenthood. She comments, “I think Bernie is supporting Planned Parenthood in his campaign as much as Hilary if not more. He’s on women’s side.” According to A.F., a freshman in SWAP, “I’m voting for Bernie, but I think him and Hilary have equal platforms for women’s rights. It’s just his economic policies that put him over the edge. I think they’re both supportive of women’s rights and reproductive rights.” A.F.’s friend and fellow member of SWAP, K.N., agrees, “I think that Hilary and Bernie see eye to eye on women’s rights. I’m voting for Bernie because a huge part is foreign policy and the fact that he doesn’t have special interest groups and his opinion isn’t swayed by any outside force.” R.S. seems to support Sanders for his policies on women’s rights. A.F. and K.N. believe Sanders should be president because of his economic and foreign policies.
After talking to four women in SWAP, Lacroix is asked whom she is personally supporting in the election and why she thinks they would make the best option for women. An avid Bernie Sanders supporter, she states, “Bernie will advocate better for my women’s rights because he always has been a strong supporter of equal rights in general versus Hilary who has had to evolve on many basic issues.” During the interview with Lacroix, she notes that Sanders has upheld Roe V Wade and women’s rights to their own bodies throughout his time in politics. Lacroix also lists reasons why she thinks Sanders is so popular among millennial feminists. She says, “He has constantly fought for equal rights throughout his entire career versus Hilary who has a history of demoralizing marginalized populations. In the past, she lobbied for a segregationist. And, under her husband, many African Americans were incarcerated at unnaturally high rates.” Lacroix, a millennial feminist herself, is very representative of this emerging point of view.
Lacroix also explains the specific women’s rights issues she thinks are important to the candidates. A central issue is improved representation of women in politics. Lacroix comments, “Obviously, we can play a part by voting Hillary into the White House, but I am more concerned with the type of women she associates with. I believe Bernie will not only employ an equal representation of women, but he will employ morally sound and empathetic women that will expand feminist ideas within the scope of government.” Lacroix makes a distinction between Clinton and Sanders, stating that she believes Bernie will not look just at gender, but what the women’s perspective represents.
From these interviews, one can gather that the women of SWAP have based their selections for president on the content of the candidates’ campaigns rather than their genders. SWAP members appear to support Sanders because of their perception of his integrity and consistency in his stance on women’s rights. However, they seem to lack faith in Clinton due to her history of pragmatism. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of SWAP rallies for Bernie Sanders, believing he will represent women best. As Lacroix says, “Millennial feminists are more focused on gender equality versus sexual equality, allowing them to realize that a male candidate who stands for equality is more appealing than a female candidate with a history of oppression.”
For my definition of millennial feminism (I summarized in my own words) : Mattil J, Caitlyn. “This Is What a Millennial Feminist Looks Like.” Mic. Mic, 21 June 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2016. <http://m.mic.com/articles/48407/this-is-what-a-millennial-feminist-looks-like#.yoDZ8NMlW>.