On Thursday evening, 3,550 people gathered in Needham B. Broughton High School to see Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren discuss her plans to end corruption in Washington, make structural changes and protect democracy across the states.
The event was held at the school gym at 7 p.m. Doors opened at 4:30 p.m. with people spilling in for hours before Warren’s town hall began at 7:00 p.m.
Madison Teeter, a first-year graduate student studying climate change and society, said she decided to attend the town hall and support Warren because she believes the country needs a candidate that is taking issues such as climate change, student loan debt and Medicare for All seriously. While other candidates are addressing similar issues, Teeter said that she likes the way Warren plans to tackle issues thoroughly.
Teeter said she wanted to show support for a candidate she believes could be the first female president. She said she believes Warren would do what she can to put women first when policies pertain to women’s rights and equality for all.
"We need to have a female at the table because if you look right now at all these meetings that the president is having and the administration is having, you're just seeing a bunch of white men,” Teeter said. “So obviously there are not people at the table to defend themselves and their demographics and where they're coming from.”
During the town hall, Representative Deb Butler from the North Carolina House of Representatives and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, representing the 7th congressional district of Massachusetts, both endorsed Warren. Pressley said she believed Warren could lead in the pursuit of equality and justice for all.
Student loan debt was a major talking point for Warren, connecting it to her plan for a 2% wealth tax on assets larger than $50 million. Warren said the tax would fund universal child care, raise wages for childcare workers, add $800 billion in K-12 public schools, triple funding for Title I schools, make tuition for technical schools free, add $50 billion in historically black colleges, and cancel student loan debt for 43 million Americans.
Clyde Shafer, a first-year graduate student studying learning design and technology, said student loan debt was one of the issues he cares about because of his personal experiences and thinks it must be addressed.
"I definitely love everything that she says,” Shafter said. “Concerning student loan debt, I do agree that if it was completely eliminated, people having more money out of their paychecks to be able to apply towards other things — I think that it will have a snowball effect on the economy and in other areas.”
Ben Campbell, a third-year studying political science said while he is a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, he viewed it to be important that he educate himself on all of the 2020 democratic candidates for the future.
“Why would I not come out to be more educated about more candidates?” Campbell said. “If there’s something that swings my thinking in one way or another today, then sure. I know in the end, even if Bernie doesn’t win democratic nomination, I’m still going to vote for whoever does. So if Warren is the one to win it, I would like to learn more about her as a candidate.”
Warren also tackled the issue of corruption, saying she wanted to deal with it “head-on,” and said she was ready to play offensive by creating legislation. She said every issue that American citizens are passionate about has been influenced by money in Washington D.C., and fighting corruption will take major structural changes like ending lobbying.
Jayna Lennon, a fourth-year studying political science, said she was in support of the message because she believes corruption is the biggest issue that must be fixed in the country.
“I really like Warren’s message of corruption and how that’s really going to be her priority because it’s really hard for me to pinpoint a single issue like healthcare, cost of college, or cost of housing,” Lennon said. “All of those things do just stem from such a lack of transparency in our government and the role that money plays in politics, and I think until we really solve those bigger issues, it’s going to be really hard to get to the root of inequality which is obviously so ubiquitous across the country.”
Protecting democracy was also a major theme in the town hall with Warren laying out plans that would increase the accessibility of voting. Warren’s plans include a constitutional amendment, a federal law to end partisan gerrymandering, rolling back voter suppression legislation, and overturning Citizens United, a Supreme Court case that declared the government’s restriction on political spending by corporations and unions unconstitutional.
Warren was also asked about her plans to address gun violence after the mass shooting that took place on UNC-Charlotte’s campus. Warren said gun control was an issue that continually needed to be assessed in order to enact gun legislation.
Sarah Hall, a second-year studying biomedical engineering, said the reason she thinks Warren is a compelling candidate is because of her strategies that discuss several issues facing American citizens in more detail than other candidates.
“Really when you look at all of the candidates that we have right now, some of them have good, rolled-out plans for things they’re really passionate about,” Hall said. “Beto, when he was in the presidential election, had his plan for gun buybacks and gun reform and you look at Bernie and he’s got Medicare for All, but people aren’t really rolling out comprehensive plans beforehand. I think Warren does a great job of doing that because that’s what voters really, in the end, need to look at.”
Hall believes students should start paying attention to the upcoming election.
“Policy that’s created right now and is going to be rolled out isn’t just going to last for the four years a person is president,” Hall said. “It’s going to have long-lasting impacts on our foreign affairs, on our economy, our current state as a nation and our future. So if someone is interested in living here and being an active citizen here, then they should get involved as soon as possible.”
Warren emphasized the importance of young voters engaging with the election, saying the policies she advocates for are to create opportunities for younger generations in the future.
“This is about you,” Warren said. “We need you in this fight, and we need you in this fight right now because the climate is about the world that you are going to inherit. This economy is about the opportunities you are going to inherit. Gun safety is about the safety of the world you are going to inherit. I’m out here to do my best and I promise in the White House I will lead, I will be in this fight, but the fight only works if all of us are in it and it’s for you. We really need you in this fight so you have a world where you have the opportunity.”