Howard Dean Speaks at McAlister

April 24, 2004

Gregory Pejic, <i>Hullabaloo</i> staff writer

Former presidential candidate and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean spoke on the future implications of the 2004 presidential race on American politics in McAlister Auditorium Monday night. Dean spoke in depth about the role young people have in the upcoming election and in the community.

"People under the age of 25 vote in very small proportions, yet they have the highest percentage of participation in community service projects," Dean said. "Young people don't lack interest in the electoral process, but they are not making the connection of what happens in their community and in Washington, D.C."

Dean spoke on federal college loans, another issue very relevant to college students. "We can not continue to saddle your generation with loans you can't pay," he said. On public school education, Dean commented on the poor state that some children start their education in. "We send kids to public schools at five years old who are so badly damaged by the time they reach the public school system they have no hope," he said. "We must invest in small children so they can learn."

Dean was very critical of Bush when commenting on the main issues of the current campaign. "The most important campaign issue of this campaign is not Iraq, it is the credibility of the President. [He] didn't tell the truth to the American people on the way into Iraq," Dean said. Globalization was another issue Dean named as a significant part of this year's election.

"This election has profound implication for the long-term future of this country because there is a structural problem with our trade agreements," he said. While admitting that "globalization is inevitable and free trade is a good thing," Dean also said, "We only did half the job. The WTO was supposed to be negotiated with labor, environmental and human rights protections and it was not. American capitalism needs to get its act together and if you don't treat your workers properly, you end up with a worse system."

Dean blamed both the Clinton and Bush administrations for ignoring this history. During his speech, Dean focused not only on the issues of the election but also on the importance of the Southern vote.

"The white Southerner is the most underrepresented voter in the country," Dean said. "If we never go to Mississippi because we know we can't win, then the people there never get to hear the other side of the coin."

While the large crowd in attendance reacted mostly positively to Dean's remarks, the College Republicans also made their opinions heard. Tulane College senior and College Republican member Donnie Dixon asked the governor how much of the $20,000 he was paid to appear at Tulane would be spent to benefit small children. Dean refused to answer the question.

The College Republicans also charged that Dean was not allowed to speak on partisan issues due to being paid by the student activity money. Political and religious functions are currently excluded from such funding. Kristin Grosskopf, Newcomb College senior and outreach chair for the Tulane College Republicans, said the partisan portions of Dean's speech crossed the line.

"As a College Republican, I was horrified because I thought we were coming to here a speech funded with our own tuition money that was non-partisan, that was not anti-Bush or anti-American, but that's not exactly what I got," she said. "I got a partisan speech that was very inflammatory against the president and I was shocked."

The Tulane College Democrats, who co-hosted the event, disagree with Grosskopf and others, and instead enjoyed Dean's speech.

"I thought the speech was amazing. Governor Dean is one of my personal idols. He is one of the first Democrats in a long time to actually stand up and be proud to be a liberal," Lauren Starret, president of the Tulane College Democrats, said. "Lately the Democratic party has been apologetic and reactionary to the Republicans."

Tulane University Campus Programming hosted the event and paid a total of $20,000 for Dean's appearance.

"About a month and half ago we received word that the former presidential candidate would be doing a college tour to discuss the election and to inform people what's at stake and how to get involved," Daren Sadowsky, Lyceum chair of TUCP, said. "We thought it would be a great opportunity for this campus to have a six-time governor and a former presidential candidate to come speak and just share that type of experience and someone of that stature at this university."

Sadowsky, who introduced the Governor, was impressed with Monday night's turnout. "There was an overwhelming response tonight," he said. "It is the best recorded Lyceum event in last five to 10 years, and I think he felt very welcome here."

Lyceum is the guest speaker branch of TUCP. In the past, it has brought speakers of all different backgrounds, ranging from celebrities to politicians such as Dean. Jacob Pewitt, TUCP president and Tulane College junior, was also impressed with the event.

"It went off pretty well. We were surprised of how huge and respectful the crowd was," he said. "Everybody seemed to have a very, very good time. There were a lot of intelligent questions and it was a good debate."

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000