Colgate held its first town hall forum with Congressman Anthony Brindisi, the newly-elected State Representative for New York’s 22nd congressional district on Saturday, March 22.
The forum was structured as a discussion to give students the opportunity to engage directly with an elected state representative by speaking with Brindisi. The Congressman said he is committed to being the voice of the everyday people of his rural district.
The audience was made up of students, faculty and constituents of the village of Hamilton. Joining them were President Brian Casey and Provost and Dean of the Faculty Tracey Hucks. The discussion was moderated by Professor Nina Moore and senior David Zevallos. The pair introduced a number of political topics, ranging from freedom of speech and college accessibility to healthcare reform to gun control. Brindisi answered questions from the moderators, representatives from both the College Democrats and the College Republicans and members of the audience.
Brindisi, while answering questions about college accessibility, brought up the idea of a new diploma system that he supports. The system would train high school students in technical jobs so they can graduate high school with an entry- level certification for a high-paying job in high demand, such as welding. This can be followed by an apprenticeship or two-year program to further their edu- cation in such a field, eliminating the necessity of having to go to a four-year college to qualify for a job. This would make it easier for underprivileged youth to make money to support themselves instead of having to take out loans and accumulate debt.
Brindisi reflected on his family’s story when discussing immigration reform. He mentioned that his own grandparents were immigrants, and that he believes America should be welcoming to people coming from other countries. As far as a border wall, Brindisi stated that he supports physical barriers in places where they are needed, but that a full wall would not be necessary.
“We can’t build a wall from sea to shining sea,” Brindisi said.
He believes that the money required for building a wall can be put to greater use in other areas, such as the scanning technology used for vehicles crossing the border, funding for the coast guard or an increase of judges who can reduce the wait-time of asylum seekers.
After discussing each topic put forward by the moderators, the forum was open to questions from the audience about any issue. One audience member brought up the way the media treats perpetrators of mass shootings, and that it should be focusing on victims and not the story of the perpetrator. Brindisi agreed and added that it is likely that perpetrators of massive acts of violence commit them because they want to be known for what they did. Other topics discussed in the Q&A include criminal justice reform and additional questions about health care.
The next campus town hall forum with Brindisi is set to occur in Fall 2019.
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