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The Mass Media

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USG hosts Second Leadership Speaker Series with State Reps

USG+hosts+Second+Leadership+Speaker+Series+with+State+Reps

On Wednesday, Dec. 5, the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) held the 2nd installment of their Leadership Speaker Series in the Ryan Lounge. More than 50 people attended to hear representatives Martin Walsh, Linda Dorcena Forry and Nick Collins speak and field questions from the audience.

The representatives started by speaking briefly on current issues, their duties and how they became state politicians. Each one stressed the need for people and communities to pay attention to their local politics as well as Washington politics.

“Everything in life is affected by government,” said Representative Walsh, who referred to the audience as ambassadors. He went on to say that calling your state rep and voicing your opinion can have an impact. He told the crowd, mostly made up of students, about the time a bill, which would have allowed private residents in Massachusetts to trap beavers, was working its way through the legislature. There are very few beavers in Walsh’s Dorchester district, and he did not feel strongly about voting yes or no on the bill. Only when one of his constituents, an animal rights activist, called him, did representative Walsh make a decision. He voted no.

Representative Collins repeated Walsh’s comments, saying, “Get in touch with your state reps.”

After the three politicians gave their short introductions and speeches, they took a few questions from the audience. One person asked how they felt about Election Day and if one day was enough for people to get out and vote.

“There is at least a 12-hour window for people to vote. It’s up to the individual to make the time,” said Representative Forry. Her fellow reps agreed that one day is enough.

Forry was also asked how she was able to handle being a state representative and mother of four children.

“I have an amazing network to help me and a great partner,” she answered.

The representatives were asked about plans to create revenue for education. They said that they hoped that revenue could be generated by taxing casinos that might be built in Massachusetts, or by taxing internet sales, which Walsh said could bring in $150-200 million.

The representatives also spoke about their vision for UMass Boston’s future. Representative Walsh, whose girlfriend’s daughter attends the university, said that it is “not really a commuter school.” He added that he believes UMass Boston “will probably have dorms.”

Regardless of Walsh’s controversial statements, student government cabinet member and Director of Government Relations at UMass Boston Patrick O’Brien said that he believes the representatives support the school fully.

“They are a strong voice on any issue facing UMass Boston,” he said. O’Brien was instrumental in bringing the representatives to UMass Boston because of his ties to local politicians. He worked for Forry in 2008 and met Collins during his time there. Representative Walsh is a close family friend of the O’Briens.

Said O’Brien, “Me and the other members of the USG wanted to give students the same intimate setting that I’ve had with [the representatives], to ask questions like, ‘How do you really feel about this? What do you think?’”

This event was the 2nd installment of the USG’s Leadership Speaker Series that started in November with City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. The USG hopes to bring the same caliber of leaders and successful people to speak informally to students in the spring.