Since September, Steven Abreu has been setting up camp in SUNY Old Westbury’s campus center, seeking to register voters and have students sign a petition for Bernie Sanders to visit the school. In just a few months, Abreu has registered over 250 voters and gotten over 540 signatures petitioning for Sander’s visit. His tables are adorned with pro-Bernie propaganda, including poster boards filled with student’s signatures and articles written on the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. Many students are familiar with his agenda and he had become a recognizable fixture in the hall between classes. “April 19th, don’t forget to vote,” many have heard him call out as they pass.
“I’ve even registered a lot of Republicans because when it comes down to it, just register to vote and get out there!”, said Abreu. He encourages his peers to participate in their constitutional right to vote because, as he says, “it’s the people that were able to enact change regarding women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, and many other historical movements.” He trusts Bernie Sanders because he feels that the Vermont senator is the only candidate refraining from “grandstanding,” or simply saying what is most favorable to the spectators and media. Sanders attracts Millennials, especially college students. Sanders won 84% of the younger voters support over Clinton in the Iowa entrance poll. According to Abreu, this is in part due to his campaigns on raising the minimum wage and making college more affordable.
Coming from Plainview, NY, Abreu’s passion for the Feel the Bern campaign goes far beyond his tireless efforts at Old Westbury. He is a legally bound district delegate for Sanders on Long Island and if Bernie earns enough delegates in the area, Abreu will have the opportunity to attend the July Democratic National Convention, which will be Sanders first as well. It will be, in Bernie’s words, “huuuge” to make it that far. Abreu’s name can even be seen on the ballot for Bernie. He has also spoken to Mrs. Sanders twice, saying that she is “an absolute sweetheart” and that he “couldn’t ask for a nicer First Lady.” “She would make a much better First Lady than Bill Clinton”, he adds.
Abreu pointed out that there was no other tables in the campus center dedicated to Clinton or Trump and prided himself on doing this work since September, “without the help of any teachers or clubs,” despite recently becoming an extension of the Politics and Economic Law club.
A major roadblock to his mission was posed on Thursday, March 24th, when campus police apprehended Abreu, insisting that he “pack up” and did not have permission to set up by the university. Abreu countered that it was his First Amendment right to assemble and that it is legal to register citizens to vote under the Federal Electioneering Law. “Maybe, they’re Trump supporters,” Abreu can be heard saying in the video he took of the incident and later posted on his Facebook page. At almost 40,000 views, many have commented with outrage, in support of Abreu. Throughout the video, he insists on his rights and officials present no clear violation of the law. Abreu insists that this was an “infringement of the Constitution” and promises that he will take legal action. He has been in contact with NowThis, a network for those who get their news from mobile devices and social media, and he encourages his supporters to “stay tuned” for what comes next of this controversial predicament. Faculty members have now become active and drafted letters to board members in Abreu’s defense.