About 50 students gathered in Wilson 101 Wednesday night for an information session and discussion forum on Hillary Clinton in light of her announcement of her presidential campaign Sunday.
Brown Students for Hillary, which hosted the event and was founded two weeks ago in preparation for Clinton’s campaign, is affiliated with Ready for Hillary, a movement of college students supporting Clinton that is developing nationwide, said group co-presidents Emma Dickson ’16 and Elena Saltzman ’16.
The forum opened with a Powerpoint presented by Dickson and Saltzman outlining Clinton’s family background, education and political career. They then opened the floor for discussion and questions.
Much of the discussion centered on Clinton’s vigorous campaigning for breaking the glass ceiling during her time as First Lady.
“There was actually an article I saw today that talked about how she was really the first First Lady who didn’t go into it with anyone thinking she was going to be subservient,” Dickson said. As a new grandmother, Clinton could promote the idea of women balancing family dynamics and careers in her campaign, Dickson added.
Clinton’s campaign announcement video focuses primarily on Clinton’s support for families, but students said they would like to see her elaborate on how she intends to address economic problems.
“I think you will see sustained pressure on her to address income inequality, to address structural shifts in the economy that have happened,” said Mathias Heller ’15, a former Herald managing editor. “Obama has gotten us back from the brink of the recession, but we need to have sustained dialogue about how to move forward.”
Jeffrey Salvadore ’17 said he hopes Clinton will play up her efforts to protect children’s rights in her campaign. “I had no idea about the work she’s done for child rights. … It’s not something people really talk about,” he said. “It’s really cool to hear that she’s at the forefront of that.”
Clinton’s support for the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan remains a controversial aspect of her political history. Students debated how this will affect her chances of victory.
“She needs to think of some way to explain it, like … that she did it mainly for the rights of the women in Afghanistan. That to me is a very compelling reason for her to vote the way she did,” said Talia Rueschemeyer-Bailey ’18.
A long-time Clinton supporter, Rueschemeyer-Bailey said she learned a lot about Clinton’s policies and background during the discussion, most notably her backing of U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan — a facet of her career Rueschemeyer-Bailey was previously unaware of.
Citing her admiration for Clinton’s work on women’s rights and child development, Rueschemeyer-Bailey said she has “always looked up to (Clinton) as a female leader.”
“I am a huge fan of Hillary Clinton,” Salvadore said. “It’s time for a female president, and I want to do everything to make sure she gets elected.” He added that he attended the discussion as a way of both showing his support for Clinton and learning more about her campaign. “I didn’t know all that stuff about her early years. … It really gave me a more complete sense of her campaign.”
The group intends to continue supporting Clinton by joining forces “with national organizations and ideally with (Ready for Hillary) chapters at other schools in the area,” Dickson said. The group also plans to hold campaigning and canvassing trips in Providence and in other places, like New Hampshire, in the fall and spring.
All of the chapters of Ready for Hillary are “building from the ground up” and “starting early,” Dickson said, adding that a common issue for candidates is that “they don’t have a lot of grassroots support until the general election.” As part of the student movement supporting Clinton, Brown Students for Hillary will be “ready to be part of the campaign,” Saltzman said.