A livable minimum wage, student debt, investments in clean energy and education, and, most importantly, student engagement during this year’s upcoming election — those were only a few of the things discussed during Sen. Al Franken’s visit to Carleton College on Saturday.
The visit took place in the Weitz Center for Creativity, which was packed full of hundreds of people eager to hear Franken speak.
State Rep. David Bly (DFL-Northfield) started off the event, highlighting Franken’s commitment to tackling the debt issue thousands of students face. He was followed by entertainment from Carleton’s oldest coed a capella group, Exit 69, and guest musician Jeremy Messersmith, who managed to engage the packed crowd with a sing-along.
Other guests included Steve Simon, who’s running for Minnesota Secretary of State, and Mike Obermueller, who’s running for U.S. Congress.
Franken paid tribute to Sen. Paul Wellstone, mentioning Wellstone’s legacy of support for a strong middle class and his commitment to education. Fleshing out that concept, Franken stressed the need to address the debt issue facing millions of Americans, especially Minnesota students — since Minnesota has the fourth most debt in the country.
“Debt stops people from living their lives,” Franken said. “For an individual, it can be a disaster. For a country, it’s a crisis.”
One way Franken hopes to address this issue is through new legislation allowing students to refinance their student loans after graduation, a move that fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) supports. Warren was also at Saturday’s event, urging support for Franken in next month’s election. She exhorted students to vote early and become involved in Franken’s campaign, which she said was critical to keep Senate seats away from Republicans and their future plans.
“The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it,” she said. “We can whine, we can whimper or we can fight back, and we’re here to fight back. We know what we’re fighting for and what we’re up against. We’ve got our voices, or votes and our willingness to fight. This is about democracy, about your future, and about the kind of country we want to build.”
Both senators stayed after the event to visit with Northfield residents and students.