Presidential Hopeful Bernie Sanders Visits University Park
Senator Bernie Sanders paid a visit to Penn State on Tuesday as part of his campaign to win the Pennsylvania Presidential Primary next week. Students lined up outside of Rec Hall, some as early as 8 a.m., to obtain good seats for the rally.
Jacob Ryan of Centre County for Bernie Sanders and Lauren Smith of Penn State Students for Sanders greeted the crowd and explained the two groups have been pulling for Sanders to visit Happy Valley for months now. The two implored students on campus to remember to vote in this month’s primary.
Sophia McClennen, Penn State’s School of International Affairs associate director and established author, introduced the star of the night. Sanders took the stage around 7:08 p.m. to a lively crowd of 6,655 community members. “It looks like Penn State is ready for a political revolution!” he shouted to the crowd made up of students and supporters alike.
He dove right in to speaking about issues at the core of his campaign, urging Americans to “think outside of the status quo.” With the New York primary occurring on the same day, Sanders assured the members of the crowd that they have nothing to worry about. “We’ve won seven out of the last eight caucuses and primaries. She’s getting nervous because when we began this campaign we were 60 points behind, and after the last couple of weeks a few national polls have us in the lead,” Sanders said alluding to his opponent — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Sanders spoke to the congregation about almost everything from his platform, including wage gap between genders and minorities, demilitarizing local police departments, and marriage equality. He declared a revolution on the way we treat mental health in this country. “We will do whatever it takes to end racism and bigotry in America,” Sanders said to a very diverse group.
He then expanded on the wage gap issue. “This campaign is listening to women! Women are telling me they are sick and tired of going to work and telling me they are making 77 cents on the dollar! Women of this country want the whole damn dollar, and they’re right!”
The presidential hopeful jumped to an issue many people on this campus were anxious to hear. “Young people fully understand that they are the future on this country and they want to determine the future of this country,” Sanders said as he began to talk about college debt, “Why are we punishing millions of young people for doing exactly what we asked them to do?”
He elaborated to the crowd that many United States citizens are swimming in hundreds of thousand of dollars of student debt. Penn State currently has the highest tuition of a public university — second only to the University of Pittsburgh. Sanders explained that in order for this economy to succeed we need to have a strong education. Rec Hall responded with cries of joy, chanting “Bernie” over and over again.
In closing, Sanders reminded the audience how crucial it is to exercise the right to vote, adding that the only way people can make a major change and stand up to the big establishment is to do so.
“The major crisis we face are not the crisis themselves, it is the belief told to us every day by the establishment, by the media, by Congress, ‘You can’t make change, this is the status quo, this is the way it is and this is the way it always will be, doesn’t matter what you believe.’ And that is what this campaign is all about.” Sanders shouted to a fired up Rec Hall.
“You are going to lead this country into a political revolution. Thank you all!” he concluded as he exited the stage, shaking hands and wishing the university well.