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Saturday, April 4, 2020

State Representative Rick Larsen answers student questions at town hall

By Olivia Kearney

On Wednesday, October 24, the Young Democrats club at Western hosted a town hall with Washington State Representative Rick Larsen. The town hall was held for students to question state and national legislation and issues.

Young Democrats is a Western club dedicated to giving students spaces to voice their political beliefs and opinions.

Larsen represents the Second Congressional District of Washington, which includes San Juan and Island counties and parts of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Larsen serves on various committees such as Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Aviation Subcommittee and the House Armed Services Committee. Within these three committees, he hopes to support veterans and current armed forces with the resources they need, reform and invest in American infrastructure, and generate jobs and fuel the economy through the growth of aviation.

But why bring Larsen to Western? Henry Pollet, vice president for the Young Democrats of Western, said the group invited Larsen to allow Western students to have a personal dialogue with him.

“A lot of times, members of Congress seem really distant and disconnected from their communities even when they’re not, so giving students a chance to interact on a much more personal level with Rick Larsen really seemed like a golden opportunity for us,” he said.

The town hall was broken up into two parts: prepared questions and an open forum.

“With upcoming elections- it’s really important to be an educated voter, and this is an opportunity for students to come hear from someone,” Sam Frost, Associated Students communications director said.

The town hall was open to all students at Western and, more than anything, the event was a chance to learn and hear student concerns.

Young Democrats of Western member Neah Havens said, “I don’t know much about him, so I’m just interested to know what his main points are- and I’m excited to see what other people have to say,”  Questions ranged from the nationwide legalization of marijuana to international issues, including ending military involvement in Yemen.

One of the most topical questions asked was, “Would you support legislation offering two years of tuition-free college?”

Larsen responded by saying he had already sponsored that legislation but it had specific eligibility guidelines that came with it.

Larsen said he remembers a time when students were able to pay their way through college or take out smaller loans; a reality that is almost lost now in 2018. Despite need, Larsen said change in legislation may take a while.“It’s going to take a generation to get to where I want to go,” he said.

The full stream of Larsen’s town hall can be found on the Young Democrats of Western’s Facebook page, YoungDemsofWWU.

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