Updated September 22, 2018 at 10:04 a.m.
The Columbia University Democrats, in partnership with School of International and Public Affairs professor Anya Schiffrin, will host candidate for New York’s 14th Congressional District Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez next Monday, to discuss the future of the Democratic Party.
Ocasio-Cortez was invited to speak with Nobel Prize-Winning Economist and Columbia Business School Professor Joseph Stiglitz. According to CU Dems President Joanna Cohen, Ocasio-Cortez will talk about the importance of the midterm elections.
The event sold out just one day after tickets were released.
The 28-year-old candidate won the primary against Democratic powerhouse Joe Crowley, the incumbent in the position since 1999. Her victory was a major upset in the Democratic Party and, to many, signalled a shift in the party towards the socialist left.
Schiffrin reached out to CU Dems in April about co-sponsoring the event after she asked Ocasio-Cortez to come speak on campus, hoping to galvanize student voter participation in the upcoming midterm elections.
CU Dems were forced to move the highly-anticipated event to Riverside Church after they were informed by University Life officials that holding the event on campus violated university policy. Schiffrin and Stiglitz, who are married, will be covering the costs of using the new space.
The event is in violation of Columbia’s policy on partisan political events, which states that the University is “prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” The University defines political intervention as not only any kind of financial contribution, but also as “the publication or distribution of written or oral statements on behalf of or in opposition to a particular candidate.”
According to Cohen, she received notice of the cancellation on Thursday night, three days before the event was scheduled to take place.
“This was very definitely not a campaign event—this was an event with someone who is a candidate,” Cohen said. “We were aware of the fact that there could be problems because she is a candidate and it’s close to the election, but we went through the event review process so we were so surprised to learn that they, at the last minute, had found something objectionable that they hadn’t previously.”
CU Democrats had previously hosted City Counselor Jumaane Williams last February while he was running for Lieutenant Governor of New York.