Town hall focuses on student concerns

A U.S. senator hosted the Burlington town hall meeting at UVM Feb. 17.

Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke to students in a student town hall meeting set up by the SGA. Senior Aya AL-Namee, president of SGA, introduced Sanders to the students who were there.

Sanders introduced the student panelists who would each speak on “some of the most important issues that are facing our country,” he said.

Senior Liz Amler spoke as the first panelist about keeping “big money” out of politics and introduced each of the panelists and their subjects.

Senior Francesca Hall was the next panelist.  Hall discussed climate change.

“There’s a lot of stuff that’s been happening in the last few years nationally, in Vermont and here at UVM specifically relating to combating climate change and working to create a more sustainable and just future,” Hall said in her speech.

Senior Jess Fuller spoke as the third panelist about women’s issues.

Fuller said she was pleased to see that Sanders is already in support of a woman’s access to birth control.  She believes, however, that only fighting for birth control does not fix the many other concerns regarding women’s issues.

Junior Caroline DeCunzo was the final panelist.

“Students are burying the cost of education, and society is bearing the benefits,” DeCunzo said in her speech. “And I think that’s incredibly unfair.”

When DeCunzo finished discussing the student debt crisis, Sanders spoke again. “Change can happen and does happen when whole lots of people stand together and fight,” Sanders said.

After Sanders gave his speech, there was a question and answer session.  One of the questions regarded him potentially running for president in 2016.

“I won’t [run for president] unless it is done well – unless we can put together an organization and a political and a financial infrastructure to win,” Sanders said.

Sanders has been a senator since 2007, according to his website biography.  Before that, he was a United States representative from 1991 to 2007 and mayor of Burlington from 1981 to 1989, according to his biography.

Sanders’s wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, was the president of Burlington College until 2011, according to his biography.