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November 2015


Political engagement: Telling our story, telling our students' stories
Dante Morelli


Dante Morelli
Dante Morelli (right) practiced political engagement with Kevin Peterman and New York State Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre. (photo by Steve Gravano)

My brief experience as a union officer has been a wild roller coaster ride.

The start of my appointment brought many responsibilities and expectations. It was in this moment that I realized the officers of the FA work incredibly hard to make our union work and to raise our visibility to outside stakeholders, specifically state and county legislators.

From attending political fundraisers to being a member of the Political Action committee (PAC), the political engagement that we do is deeply invaluable to our union.

This past September was my first experience of participating in our PAC. Screening the candidates about concerns in higher education, especially those facing SCCC, was a great opportunity to further educate current and future legislators about the issues our students face.

Additionally, we have attended many fundraisers in the last year, and I have learned a lot. I am not from Suffolk County so learning about all of the legislative districts, county party politics and the history of the local political landscape has been an enriching experience. These fundraisers are not an opportunity to simply shake hands and have “face time” with a county legislator. These moments are an opportunity to tell our story and not just an “FA story.”

Specifically, we share the stories of the college and the success of our students and academic programs. These narratives are important as they add great context to what we do every day. This is not only political action—it is political engagement. This engagement with our legislators happens throughout the year which allows us to continue the conversation.

Finally, we recently created a Twitter account (@FacultyAssocSCC) earlier this semester. Knowing neither the potential pitfalls nor advantages of having a Twitter account, we started following all of the county legislators on their respective accounts. Our little experiment is paying off. Legislators are not only following us but are also communicating with us, including “favoriting” and “retweeting” our tweets. This ongoing communication is incredibly important especially as unions continue to face criticism nationally.

Political engagement is an ongoing, year-round process. We must continue to educate and support our legislators in an environment of uncertainty. Your voice matters: on November 3, please vote for the county legislators that we have endorsed.