Warren holds town hall in West Gym

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On Tuesday, Oct. 22, over 700 UNI students, staff and community members gathered to hear presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speak in the West Gym. Warren, a Harvard University professor, is a frontrunner out of 19 candidates seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

In the most recent Des Moines Register poll, published on Sept. 21, Warren took the lead with 22 percent.

Opening remarks were given by Iowa State Senator Eric Giddens, one of several Iowa politicians who has committed to supporting Warren in the 2020 race.

“Not only does Elizabeth have the leadership skills and the tenacity to take on the powerful forces of corruption that are crippling our democracy, but she personally understands the systemic changes that have to happen,” said Giddens. “She’s developed, by far, the most detailed plans to get us there.”

Warren was introduced by ​Athena Sade-Whitehead, a UNI vocal performance graduate student and avid supporter of Warren’s campaign. ​

Warren was ran to the stage, dancing and rallying the crowd. To begin, she shared a bit about herself and the background that inspired her candidacy.

When Warren was a child, her mother took a full-time minimum-wage job, despite never having entered the workforce.

Warren said the lesson she learned from her mother was, “No matter how scared you are, no matter how hard it looks, when it comes down to it, you reach down deep and you find what you have to find […] and you take care of the people you love.”

“It wasn’t until years later,” she said, “that I came to understand that wasn’t just the lesson my mother taught me. It’s what millions of people do across this country every day.”

Warren said she is running for public office is because, to her, a full-time minimum-wage job can no longer support a family.

Warren outlined the steps she would take to revive America’s democracy and strengthen the middle class. She discussed her “two cent” wealth tax, in which individuals who have accumulated more than $50 million must pay two cents for every dollar earned after that.

Warren said she would use this tax to provide universal childcare, fund public schools, make college and trade schools tuition-free and cancel student loan debt for the majority of the population. She would ensure social security for retired citizens and increase financial security for those with disabilities.

She also proposed adding a Constitutional amendment to secure the fundamental voting rights of every individual, outlawing gerrymandering, tackling racist voter suppression laws and repealing Citizens United.

After sharing her plan of action, Warren opened the floor to audience questions. Cedar Valley community members and UNI students, chosen at random through a raffle, brought up topics ranging from foreign policy to LGBTQIA+ inclusion in schools.

After over an hour of speaking, Warren stayed after to take pictures, sign books and meet attendees. Campaign workers distributed information on Warren’s upcoming “Weekend of Action” and gathered caucus commitments for Warren.

The crowd ranged from undecided voters to committed Warren advocates, such as sophomore English major Bailey Renfro.

“I have been a Warren supporter since the race started,” Renfro said. “Mostly it was because of her ability to articulate her plans for the issues [she and] I both care about. Even today, she managed to touch on all my top issues […] in about an hour.”

Renfro said that Warren’s authenticity sets her apart from other politicians.

“I hear a lot of empty words,” she said. “I hear a lot of generalizations made by other candidates and [Warren] is one of the candidates who doesn’t do that. She says exactly what she’s going to do.”

Emma McMenomy, a freshman political communications major, said, “Personally, I’m a big planner myself, so I love how Warren has a plan for everything. I can always look [to her platform] and know that she has a solution for the issues I’m passionate about.”

“I think in the past two and a half years, America has started to see that we made the wrong decision [in 2016],” McMenomy said. “I think Warren has what it takes to defeat Donald Trump.”

Warren left audience members and viewers with an urge to keep the momentum going.

“This is our moment in American history,” she said. “Our moment to dream big, fight hard and win.”