Congress reps. discuss education

    Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Congressman Bob Filner (D-Calif.) spoke about the importance of higher education and community involvement at “”Connect,”” a forum organized by the A.S. National Affairs Lobby Committee, held Feb. 19.

    Stu Iler
    Guardian

    “”The basic purpose of the forum is to have a place where students and community members can address issues,”” said National Affairs Committee Ambassador Michelle Yousofi.

    Students, faculty and community members were invited to attend a dinner, listen to speakers and participate in a discussion.

    During the two-hour event, attendees listened to speeches about the role of community service and political participation. After a brief welcome from A.S. National Affairs Director Daniel Loh, Davis spoke about various issues on education and addressed the budget crisis in California. Davis, whose district includes the UCSD campus, also mentioned the importance of outreach programs, internships and the No Child Left Behind Act.

    Stu Iler
    Guardian

    “”I think that students are looking for direction, and our message really was that you can do anything and that you have more power than you think you have,”” Davis said. “”You need to use it and you need to be involved.””

    Filner also expanded on the topic of activism among American citizens. In his fifth term representing the 51st Congressional District, Filner shared stories about his past experiences as a Freedom Rider in the 1960s. He invoked images from the past in an attempt to reiterate the importance of a person’s civic responsibility to voice opinions. Filner also discussed the possible war against Iraq and described it as a “”bad war”” to emphasize his stance against it. He further encouraged all people to be involved in American policies.

    “”Ordinary people were able to change American history,”” said Filner of the 1960s. “”There is room for people to get involved and make a difference.””

    During the question-and-answer portion, students and other participants were encouraged to come up and ask the congressional representatives about specific concerns. Davis and Filner announced their opposition to the Classification of Race, Ethnicity and National Origin initiative after students asked about their stance. Some also inquired about other issues ranging from the value of education, to the probability of a draft, to the establishment of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.

    On the topic of budget cuts for education, Filner said that the there is the “”question of priorities and focus.”” Davis said that the promotion of education starts with deciding how much the government wants to support the issue and then backing it up with resources.

    “”To address issues and to have a public forum to do that is very important, and I’m very pleased to see that here tonight,”” said Noah Finkelstein, who is a lecturer and research fellow at UCSD. “”I’m sorry that the entire campus was not here.””

    Other keynote speakers included Wayne Klitofsky of the San Diego Israel Alliance and Mark Trotter, the past president of the San Diego Rotary Club.

    Trotter discussed American society and its dependency on the people’s ability to participate in different issues. Klitofsky spoke about his own work in the San Diego Israel Alliance and encouraged students to be active in their communities.

    “”The forum was helpful and informative,”” said Eleanor Roosevelt College junior Rachel Gostenhofer. “”The questions were great, the discussion was great, and Trotter’s speech especially made an impression on me.””

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