By Ken Johnson, Staff Writer
Senator Jeanne Shaheen spoke to a crowd in the MUB Saturday afternoon. Roughly 50 students and community members were in attendance for Shaheen’s speech, who was brought to the University of New Hampshire by UNH College Democrats and Granite State Forward, a grassroots organization of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said Harrell Kirstein, communications director for Jeanne Shaheen for U.S. Senate.
Julia Brush, president of UNH College Democrats, introduced Shaheen for the “University of New Hampshire Campus Kickoff with United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen” event. One of the major topics discussed by Shaheen during her speech and that came up in the question and answer period was college affordability.
“I think it’s especially important for young people to get out to vote and when you bring a senator directly to them, they will become more aware of the issues,” said Elena Ryan, member of UNH College Democrats and a fellow at Granite State Forward.
Shaheen spoke for roughly 15 minutes on topics such as the importance of students voting; college affordability; students being able to refinance student loans; increasing Pell Grants; gay marriage; equal pay for women; co-payments on contraceptives; supporting small business and working families and climate change. Then she opened the floor for roughly 10 minutes for questions from students and community members.
Shaheen also said that there are 11 senatorial races that are within the margin of error, including that of New Hampshire, and that whichever party wins six of those races will control the senate, stressing the need for everyone to vote in the November elections.
Tony Cruz, a junior at Boston College, asked Shaheen about her stances on Israel and ISIS. A UNH student asked about her stance on overturning Citizens United. A UNH business major asked about energy conservation and about college costs.
Ryan said that turnout for the event was “really good.”
“I think it’s important to have a chance to get to meet some of the students, to be able to answer their questions in a small forum like we just had and to hear from them — concerns that they have,” Shaheen said. “It’s harder to do that when you have a big rally and you have lots of students involved and lots of people involved.”
“The most important thing is that [students] get out and vote, because I don’t think students really realize how much government actually affects their everyday lives and how much they can actually effect change within the country just by exercising their most fundamental democratic right,” Ryan said.
“This is a very important election,” Shaheen said. “There are critical differences between Scott Brown and me on a lot of issues that I think young people care about and that their vote is absolutely essential to this race.”