U.S. Senator Cory Booker met with approximately 150 Kean University students at a Town Hall meeting at the Green Lane Building (GLAB) on Friday, February 3, in a session that lived up to his promise of a “very honest dialogue” to learn what is on the minds of the millennial generation. Throughout the more than 90-minute session, the New Jersey democrat also challenged the students to “think about how you can be better agents of change, of justice and truth in our country.”
At the “Pizza with Cory” Town Hall – so named because the senator bought pizza for those who attended the 5:30 p.m. session – Booker fielded questions about his votes on President Trump’s cabinet nominees, the Democratic Party’s strategy in the 2016 presidential campaign, the president’s recent executive order banning travel from seven primarily Muslim nations, potential threats to federal LGBTQ policies, and campaign finance reform, among other issues.
A Palestinian-born student from Clifton expressed concern about her personal safety in the current climate in the United States and wondered if she should carry her American passport at all times to prove her citizenship. Booker urged anyone who is harassed to contact his office.
“There is so much of an urgency in fighting on these issues,” Booker said. “The mistake we make is not understanding that in America, always, the power of the people is greater than the people in power.”
The senator requested the meeting with Kean’s students and said that he was “super impressed” and inspired by the group of “very aware people” who attended. He urged the students to develop their own strategies and tactics to advance their causes, and encouraged them to vote in big numbers in every election, not just presidential elections.
“If you just turned out at presidential election levels – I am not exaggerating this – you would change control of Congress,” he said, echoing a speech last year at Howard University by President Obama. “You don’t have to occupy anything. Just vote.”
The Town Hall marked the third time in the last six months that Booker has visited Kean’s Union campus. Last year, he conducted a roundtable discussion on juvenile justice reform at GLAB in August and held a veteran small business forum at the North Avenue Academic Building in November.
In this latest visit to campus, Booker offered some required reading for Kean students interested in social justice – The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander; Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson; and Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free by Michael Leon Cook. He ended the meeting with an inspirational message for Kean’s students.
“One of the biggest things that we can do in any day are small acts of kindness, decency and love,” he said. “Politics is the urgency not just to fight the bigger battles, but to try to live your values every single day.”