Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein campaigned on Thursday to a crowd of more than 50 Yale and Connecticut community members.
The presentation was hosted by Margins, a Yale student-run leftist publication. Before the talk, students wearing Bernie Sanders campaign stickers lined up to take photos with Stein. She then personally greeted attendees, who showered her with praise for her progressive policies. Although Stein already has the Green Party nomination, attendees signed a petition to include her in the presidential ballot in time for the general election.
During her 40-minute talk, Stein addressed issues relevant to campus life, such as racial injustice, education reform and climate change.
“[Yale] is a microcosm of the fight for justice — for economic justice and racial justice and climate justice,” Stein said.
Stein said she wanted to acknowledge Next Yale — a coalition of students fighting for racial justice on campus — for its pursuit of a “diverse, inclusive Yale.” She expressed support for students who advocated to divest from fossil fuels, adding that bringing environmental justice to Yale is the first step in bringing it to American society.
Stein said if elected president, she would declare a state of emergency, which she said is the result of the state of racial injustice, the climate crisis and the economic malaise. She mentioned a project called the “Green New Deal,” which she said would involve the creation of 20 million new jobs along with environmental changes such as promoting organic and sustainable food, muscle-powered transportation and safe sidewalks and bike paths.
Attendee Jacob Waldruff ’19, a member of Margins, said climate change was the most important issue for him and one that he is “not sure the Democratic Party is really equipped to handle.” He said he believes Stein has good chance of gaining support from those who voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.
Stein was vocal about changing the American education system. She said she would implement free public higher education, cancel student debt and abolish “high-stakes testing” — standardized tests used to judge the quality of schools and teachers — that is now present in many public schools, adding that it “tests for poverty.”
“What society has ever survived by devouring its young?” Stein said. “That’s basically what’s going on right now.”
She also touched on mental health issues. She said substance-use disorders need to be treated as “health problems, not criminal problems.” Attendee and West Haven resident Taylor Krzeminski said she did not agree with the language being used by Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, making Stein a more appealing candidate.
After discussing the substance abuse, Stein elaborated on the drugs themselves. She said the “War on Drugs” promotes violence rather than fighting it. She suggested that current drug criminalization laws are similar to Prohibition in its ineffectiveness, adding that marijuana is “dangerous because it is illegal, not illegal because it is inherently dangerous.”
Stein also addressed the two-party system that dominates the presidential election and debates. According to Stein, 50 percent of people have already divorced from the two-party system. She urged the audience to open up presidential debates to allow more voices to be heard and to break the silence that she said has been turning the country away from democracy.
Talk attendee Adrian Hale ’16 said he believes many liberal voters go underrepresented in the primaries because they are not registered to one of the two main parties.
“I know that [frontrunner Hillary Clinton LAW ’73] won New York because many of the liberal and progressive voters of New York state aren’t even members of the Democratic Party,” Hale said. “I feel like it actually waters down the Democratic vote by most of them sitting out.”
Despite not being well represented during debates, Stein said she still had hope in the “radical cure.”
She said the American people have the power to turn around the economic and climate crises as well as racial injustice with “our convictions.”
“We are the cure we’ve been waiting for,” Stein said. “Nobody’s going to do it for us, but fortunately, we have the power to do it. We have the numbers to do it, we have the vision and the value and we have the public support to do it.”
Stein was also the Green Party nominee for the 2012 presidential election, in which she received 456,169 votes — the most votes any female candidate has received in a U.S. presidential general election.