Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at UC Berkeley

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Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke to a packed auditorium of students Wednesday evening about issues related to higher education and the state government.

Presenting to a class of about 700 students at Wheeler Auditorium, Newsom advocated for the use of technology to make government more transparent and accountable and called for changes to the state’s involvement in its higher education institutions to make California a global leader again.

“We’ve become average at at a time where average is over,” Newsom said at the lecture. “We’re competing with two billion people that didn’t exist in the workforce twenty years ago. We’re not just competing with cheap labor overseas, we’re competing with cheap genius.”

Using open-access technology, Newsom said, would provide a good model for the state to become more transparent and collaborative in solving problems.

“I like that he wants to change our framework of government from a framework of limitations and scarcity to one of abundance, because I feel that’s a novel approach,” said Amrita Ayer, a UC Berkeley sophomore, at the lecture. “If we can bring innovation and engagement to other fields, who’s to say we can’t bring that same spirit to government?”

This is the fourth time Newsom has spoken to Haas professor Alan Ross’ political science colloquium, Ross said. Earlier this semester, students heard debates on Proposition 36, a ballot measure that seeks to modify California’s “three strikes” law, and Proposition 34, a ballot measure that aims to end California’s death penalty at the polls in November.

“To really see how many students stayed and are engaged, this is what this class … was all about,” Ross said. “To see it happen like this, students really interested and engaged — it’s fantastic.”

Contact Mitchell Handler at [email protected].