DeSaulnier speaks to students

Spencer Batute, @BatuteSpencer

U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier visited Los Medanos College for a town hall event Oct. 8. The event ran from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall.

Event turnout exceeded expectations at roughly 150 attendees, most of them LMC students.

Congressman DeSaulnier spoke on various topics relevant to LMC students, including student debt, housing costs, future jobs and climate change.

DeSaulnier also shed some light on the current impeachment inquiry process regarding President Trump by detailing the history and basics of the impeachment process, as well as his own opinion that Trump is encouraging foreign involvement on behalf of his election.

After 40 minutes of speaking with a slide-show presentation, DeSaulnier opened up the room for questions from students. Some submitted their questions via paper, and some chose to speak their question directly to the congressman.

Questions covered impeachment, Chinese ethical standards, Bay Area housing costs, political asylum, automation, student debt, health care, education and traffic. DeSaulnier spent around 50 minutes answering these questions, making the total time spent on them longer than the time spent on his slide show.

One student in attendance, Alyssa Isabela Flores, reflected that despite the fact that most students in attendance only went because they were incentivized as part of a class, she noticed her peers tuning into what the Congressman had to say. “As I was looking around, I saw a lot of students becoming more engaged.”

Flores, who attended the event primarily because her class required her to, said she took it as a “real learning opportunity.”

The reception to DeSaulnier’s points was primarily positive; no attendees voiced complaints or conflicting opinions to the Congressman’s political agenda.

DeSaulnier personally expressed a positive reaction to the student turnout, stating he was encouraged by the thoughtful questions asked.

The event was planned by history professors Reggie Lemay and Courtney Goen. The two professors have worked together for a number of semesters now in trying to expand student awareness of their communities and build public history and civic engagement into their curricula.

“We want to encourage students to understand that learning doesn’t just happen inside four walls on campus,” said Goen. “I hope that students understand that government isn’t out of reach.”

Reflecting on the town hall, Goen said, “Most of my students expressed interest, engagement and pleasantly surprised how interesting it was,” he continued. “I was delighted to see so many of my students ask questions and get involved.”

Lemay was also pleased with student turnout and engagement, saying it went “better than what we envisioned.”

DeSaulnier generally holds at least two town hall meetings every month, and tries to hit as many community colleges as he can in an effort to reach younger audiences.