Rep. Barbara Lee visits campus for student town hall meeting

Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaks at a townhall event in the MLK Student Union. Lee is running for re-election against Marilyn Singleton.
Leya Andrews/Staff
Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaks at a townhall event in the MLK Student Union. Lee is running for re-election against Marilyn Singleton.

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Rep. Barbara Lee appeared at UC Berkeley last Thursday for a nonpartisan town hall-style meeting for students to discuss the prominent issues in the upcoming election.

The event, sponsored by the ASUC, was organized by the Black Student Union, Cal Berkeley Democrats, Berkeley Political Review, ASUC Office of External Affairs and the Office of ASUC Senator Klein Lieu and was attended by about 50 students.

Each group had the opportunity to ask one question to the representative, best known for her stance against the Iraq War during the years of the Bush administration. The questions students asked centered on the death penalty, the war in Afghanistan, political polarization, student participation in government and affirmative action.

Lee, donning an Obama pin, also took time to advocate the president’s re-election in November and student participation in the upcoming election.

Afterward, Lee took the time to meet with students one-on-one and continue discussion of current political issues before setting out for her next campaign stop in Nevada.

“Students are a good way to stay inspired (for me),” Lee said. “Students give me a lot of hope. They are a huge political force.”

UC Berkeley freshman Jason Fauss, a political science major, said he felt like he could talk to the representative about current issues in a personal setting due to this event.

“I feel more connected — she’s coming to our campus,” he said. “Anyone who takes the time to speak to students is valuable.”

Cal Dems President and UC Berkeley junior Daniel Tuchler also emphasized the importance of students becoming involved in local and national politics.

“Students should come to hear how leaders speak, learn how our government functions and how legislation gets pushed through,” he said.

For many students, it is important for the representative to speak with the public.

“We want to have people as informed as possible but also keep politicians accountable to their constituents,” said Hinh Tran, a UC Berkeley senior and editor in chief of the Berkeley Political Review.

The ASUC, which was able to bring Rep. George Miller to campus last year, will continue with its goal of bringing as many politicians to campus as possible to talk to students, said Chief Deputy of National Affairs Nicholas Kitchel.

The student government will host another nonpartisan student forum on Oct. 30 about the implications of Proposition 30 for UC students with panelists Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, UC Chief Financial Officer Peter Taylor and chair of the Alameda County Republican Party Sue Caro.

“We want to help raise awareness at all levels,” Kitchel said. “We want to help educate students.”

Contact Lindsey at [email protected]